What could mean more to an independent senior than a safer and more comfortable place to live? According to several AARP surveys, 90% of people over the age of 65 want to spend their retirement years in their own homes.
An article by Tom Kelly (Spokesman Review: Spokane, WA. December 20, 2009), suggested a way to make this happen. Giving your parents a gift certificate for an “aging in place” evaluation would be the ideal way to start the ball rolling. I think you will agree that assuring that your folks have a safe and comfortable place to live would be the perfect gift. It will not only mean peace of mind for the whole family, but will assure that everything possible is being done to respect your parent’s wishes.
The biggest challenge, of course, is getting your folks to agree that it would be money well spent. Older people have frugal tendencies and will insist that they can get by, but we all know that this isn’t true. It is time to have “the talk.” The only difference is that this particular “talk” is about making something positive happen. Press home the fact that it will cost less to “senior proof” their home than to have to move somewhere else.
First have the discussion; then follow up with a gift certificate for an “aging in place” evaluation. The National Association of Home Builders (www.nahb.org) has a special certification for “aging in place” specialists. An “aging in place” specialist can help you determine what can and should be done to make a home safer and more comfortable for senior occupants.
Projects could range from something as simple as installing grab bars or adjusting countertop heights, but eventually more comprehensive work will probably need to be done. A lift, an elevator or even creating a master suite on the first floor may need to be considered later, but first things first.
Accessibility issues are indeed a problem and they can make “aging in place” impossible if not attended to early on. A timely evaluation, delivered by a third party, is often the most sensible way to present this information in a practical and no-nonsense manner.