Modifications can help seniors remain in their homes

February 20, 2018

More than ever before, individuals are seeking ways to remain in their homes as they grow older. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 75 percent of remodelers report an increase in inquiries related to age-in-place remodeling. Also, AARP reports that 90 percent of seniors have expressed a wish to age in place as opposed to moving to a long-term care facility.

Thanks to modern technology and growing services, it is more possible than ever before to age in place. Most of the features seniors are currently concerned about in their homes are items that are not standard and need modification. The most common issues, according to AARP, are nonskid floors, grab bars in the bathroom, a personal alert system, a stair-free entrance and wider doorways. Of those who have chosen to remodel their homes to add these features, 70 percent reported they did so for safety reasons. Other reasons for making these changes included making their home environment easier to use for all family members, being able to live more independently, and being able to adapt to the changing needs of family members.

To prepare for successful aging in place, it’s important to address a person's physical and health-related concerns. Cognitive decline, such as dementia, is a leading cause of individuals having to leave the home and enter long-term care facilities. Visiting a physician for baseline cognitive testing is a good idea. Early intervention for cognitive decline is recommended, and the only way to know if someone needs intervention is proper assessment.

Another common cause of individuals leaving their home is injuries related to falling. Skilled service providers like physical therapists and occupational therapists can help individuals improve balance and strategize new ways of doing daily tasks to minimize risk. Age-related changes to strength and balance are often treatable.

A thorough assessment of the home and clinical assessment of current abilities in the home is also essential. ADA compliance to make areas accessible for all is not required in residential properties, and not always appropriate in the residential setting. Those with dementia, for example, may not be able to learn a new way of getting up from the toilet, so placement of a grab bar may be different from what ADA would normally suggest. Renovations should reflect residents’ actual needs.

As for technology, there are monitoring devices, medication dispensers and even GPS shoes. Specialists are within reach to help with knowing what technology, home modifications and services are right for an individual.

For more information or to speak to a specialist, go to