The savvy senior, Tips to ‘senior proof’ home, ensure safety |

The savvy senior, Tips to ‘senior proof’ home, ensure safety

Jim Miller, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Dear Savvy Senior,

My wife and me are both in our 70s and need some help with age proofing our house before we have too. I know of a few senior improvements like grab bars that will helps us, but I thought you might have some good ideas on the matter. Also, money is always an issue, so do you know of any special discounts or programs that could help with our senior home proofing? Thanks for you help.

Senior Proofing Senior

Dear Senior,

If you plan on staying put, “senior proofing,” also known as home modification is a smart move to do now before it becomes necessary later. Imagine the perfect senior home; no steps, wide doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, ramps, easy-to-turn door levers, large cabinet knobs, non-slip

floors, lowered cabinets, higher wall outlets and grab bars everywhere. Add in low maintenance inside and out and you would be all set! Well, that might be a little too much to ask for, however there are some simple modifications that can be done and some programs that can help you afford it.

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Savvy Note: According to an AARP housing survey, 83 percent of older Americans want to stay in their current homes for the rest of their lives.

With the rapid growth of the aging American population, home modification, or senior proofing, is becoming more and more common. By adding supportive features to your home, you increase your ability to move freely and safely about your home. Ultimately, home modifications and repairs prevent injury and falls that can lead to expensive hospitalization and institutional living.

Home Modification Considerations

Here are a few age proofing considerations

to add to your list:

Remove clutter and electrical cords throughout the house

Installation of grab-bars in the shower, near the toilet and by the tub; Walk-in showers (nice alternative); Flexible shower headsl; Place nonskid strips or decals in the tub or shower;

Replace hard-to-turn faucet handles and doorknobs with lever handles; Improve lighting; Easy-to-grab ring handles on cabinets; Sliding shelves; Widen doorways and hallways to a minimum of 35 inches; Lower door thresholds.Transition wedges can be used; Install handrails for support; Ramp installations for accessible entry and exit; Install insulation, storm windows and air conditioning.

Tip: Simple items can be purchased at your local hardware store for a minimal cost.

Discount Resources: Home modification programs in your area may provide reduced rates, loans, or services free of charge. Check out the following possibilities: State or Local Area Agency on Aging may have funds from the Older Americans

Act Title III to repair and modify homes. Call the Eldercare Locator at 800 677-1116 to find your local aging agency.

Community Development Block Grants help citizens maintain and upgrade their homes. For more information call HUD at (202) 708-1577 or visit Home Equity Conversion Mortgages allow homeowners to turn the value of their home into cash, without having to move or make regular loan payments; ask your local lender or bank about this option.

Medicare and Medicaid can fund some durable medical equipment (such as grab bars and bath/shower chairs). Check with your physician or health care provider.

Contact your Local Housing Authority for grant and/or loan programs for home modification and repair services for seniors and adults with disabilities. USDA, Rural Development offers 1 percent interest repair loans to very low and elderly homeowners and repair grants to the elderly that qualify. Call

the USDA Office of Communications at (202) 690-1533 to request the field office that covers your area, or

Local Welfare or Energy Department: Two programs from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program of the U.S. Department of Energy provide funds to weatherize the homes of lower income persons. For more information contact their national offices at (202) 401-9351 and (202) 586 4074.

This information was provided in part by the National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification and AARP. See their Web sites at and

— Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit