Remodeling your home for accessibility can save you money and help you stay in it longer.
Planning for Retirement, Dealing with Unforeseen EventsAdvances in health care and overall healthier lifestyles have had a very positive effect in terms of longer life spans and achieving a greater quality of life as we age. However, those same advances can have a significant effect on your nest egg. Planning for retirement today must include the consideration of what happens if you or your loved ones will need long-term care, from basic help with some of life’s daily tasks, to a move into an assisted living facility, or even a move into a nursing home with more skilled care.
Today, many people are forced by an unforeseen event or diagnosis to have to make the very difficult, stressful decisions to sell and leave their homes. In some instances, these decisions may have been delayed significantly or even avoided entirely if people had made certain investments and modifications to their home sooner so they could improve their home’s safety and accessibility. Those modifications could thereby potentially extend the amount of time they could remain in their homes and saved them the costs of skilled care. This trend of making the necessary modifications to stay in one's home as long as possible is typically referred to as “Aging in Place.”
The Right InvestmentThe cost of long-term care has spawned a number of different insurance products to help people deal with ever increasing costs. From a Met Life 2007 survey, the average yearly rate for Assisted Living was $35,460 while Nursing Homes with a Semiprivate Room had a national average yearly rate of $66,795. While these numbers are likely to give one pause, the trends look even worse as there seems to be no sign of these costs decreasing. Comparatively, Home Health Care costs averaged $24,700 for assistance averaging 5 hours per day 5 days a week. While making accessibility-focused modifications may not eliminate the need for some level of skilled home health care, the difference in annual costs is significant. When combined with the added benefits of staying in your own home and potentially avoiding home health related costs entirely, it is easy to see why the Aging in Place trend is growing across the country.
Budget ChallengesAging in Place doesn’t necessarily have to mean a major remodel or home addition. If one is strategic and proactive about the age-related changes they’re experiencing, in many cases all it may take is some simple de-cluttering to make one's home safer. Eliminating or taping down throw rugs and managing electrical cords also can have a big impact in preventing slips and falls, which are one of the greatest risks as we age. All of these changes cost next to nothing.
Dealing with aging relating or other debilitating conditions can be very frustrating for everyone involved. In many situations it’s not our loved ones fault that they struggle to perform daily tasks – but it is their home’s. For example, bathing activities may only require assistance simply because their existing bathroom was not designed properly to accommodate changing needs.
Small changes such as a bath or shower seat (or transfer bench to assist with higher tub thresholds), combined with a handheld shower head can make bathing easier for an individual and easier for a spouse or caregiver to assist if needed. Due to the inherent moisture and wetness in bathrooms, installing grab bars are very effective at helping prevent slips and falls and are typically the first item most people turn to when looking to improve general stability both around the bathing unit and near the toilet. Anti-skid bath mats or grip strips are another very inexpensive way to help increase traction when bathing as well. Moving up the scale in terms of Do-it-Yourself skill, moderate bath remodels can include replacing an existing toilet with a chair-height one or replacing existing vanities with wheelchair accessible solutions (e.g. pedestal sinks). Either individually or combined, small changes can represent significant upgrades to the overall safety and accessibility of many standard bathrooms that exist in the US today.
Divide and ConquerIf you're planning an existing remodel and looking for a greater level of safety and accessibility, integrating accessible products into the design can have a tremendous impact in improving your quality of life and minimizing the chance for slips and falls. While a whole home remodel may be the most efficient strategy, it can also be daunting and expensive. Using the divide and conquer methodology to take on remodeling either one room or one need at a time can help spread the cost over a great period of time and make it more affordable.
If you are focused upon a room-by-room approach, it's important to prioritize the rooms you plan to remodel. When accessible products are integrated in the design phase, bathroom, kitchen, and entrance remodels can all make big differences in your quality of life and living independently. Bedrooms, hallways, stairs, and even laundry rooms or storage area remodels can also have a great impact and should also be prioritized based upon the inherent limitations in your home.
If you're considering a physical need approach, prioritizing based upon the conditions we are most concerned about makes the most sense. For example, if your dealing with an arthritic condition, Lowe's Grip and Reach Assistance category can help educate you about an array of relevant products and modifications which are available. A great place to start is by giving your home an All Access Physical for each of our categories to determine where the best opportunities for improvement are for your home.
Maximizing Your Investment…in EnjoymentFor most of us, our homes represent our greatest asset. While at some point the decision to leave one’s home may be unavoidable, what we fail to realize is that it is often our homes’ inherent design flaws that force this decision too soon. Take the time to learn about ways to improve your home and make an affordable investment today to provide a safer, accessible environment for everyone. Ultimately, you’ll empower yourself and your loved ones to maximize and enjoy the freedom of living independently in your own home for as long as possible.