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Aging in Place – How to Help Your Loved One Remain in Their Home Safely

| Feb 25, 2019 | Firm News

An estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 in the U.S. every day and at that rate the retirement population is projected to nearly double by 2030 with the number of adults aged 65-74 growing to nearly 73-million. If you figure in adults aged 50 and over, that statistic grows to 132-million. So where will this exploding population of retirees spend their golden years?

According a recent AARP survey, 73-percent of people over 45 plan to retire in their current residence as opposed to a nursing home or other institution.  41-percent plan to stay in their homes until age 81 or older.  This desire to remain at home as long as possible has coined the term “Aging in Place.”  Aging in place allows for many great opportunities for our loved ones and can be a gentler financial alternative to moving into a senior community or an assisted living facility.  However, there are many concerns as well, especially with regard to their health care, home maintenance, and mental acuity.

Socialization is one of the keys to aging in place successfully.  Socializing increases a person’s well-being and gives people a sense of purpose.  Having fellow ‘villagers’ helps people become more engaged and creates a support network that takes the worry out of living alone and allows people to focus on the joy of living

Technology is also an important component of successful aging in place. Digital tools that utilize smartphones, GPS and other devices not only allow caregivers to keep tabs on seniors but also give doctors and other medical staff remote access to check vital signs including blood pressure.

Care support and psychological support are other keys to successful aging in place. Experts say seniors must have a support network of family members or caregivers. They must also navigate through a myriad of service providers.

Having a safe home is one of the most important keys to successful gaining in place.  Home modifications and simple additions can increase the safety and accessibility of their current home.  The costs to remodel such a home may prove more reasonable for an individual who intends to remain in the home for many years to come.

The particular types of home modifications may vary widely. At one end of the spectrum, simple measures can be taken to enhance easy mobility.  With advancing age, many senior citizens find themselves unable to get around the house with the same ease as in decades past. Especially in older homes, the floor plan may not facilitate easy movement with a wheelchair or walker.  In other cases, bedrooms on upper stories may require walking up and down stairs. Just a few steps at the front door can seriously hinder a wheelchair-bound individual’s ability to move around freely. Disability accommodations, such as widening doorways or adding wheelchair ramps, are often the best way for seniors to continue living in their home.  Other simple fixes include installing automatic controls for lighting or garage doors.  More permanent changes may include moving the height of electrical switches and kitchen counters, widening door frames, and installing grab bars in bathrooms.

If you are planning on staying in your current residence for years to come, there is really no good reason why aging in place remodeling shouldn’t be a factor in every renovation you perform.  By planning years, or even decades, in advance, homeowners can not only save a bundle for remodeling to age in place, but build an environment that is both elderly accessible and aesthetically desirable.

First, remodeling on a fixed budget is nobody’s idea of a good time; by making changes that will benefit you in your senior years now, you avoid the monkey wrench that is trimming a pension or social security check. Second, limited mobility can strike at any time; by making your house easy to maneuver early, you’ll be ready when you or a loved one needs it, no matter when that may be.

By far the most compelling reason to begin aging in place remodeling early: gradual changes are not only easier on the budget, but more likely to maintain the overall flow of your home.  By keeping your own aging and the aging of those around you in mind whenever you remodel, the small alterations and additions that will make the space senior-friendly can be as attractive and fitting as they are practical.

Finding the right company for this job isn’t difficult, however. You may need to look a little harder to locate a local firm that specializes in senior remodels. In some cases, the best course of action is to combine the efforts of a company you know and trust with the design of a draftsman or architect who specializes in such work.  No matter what route you end up taking, your first step should always be contacting several different contractors and getting quotes (and a feel for how they do business) from each.

Many of the home modifications necessary for individuals with limited mobility are costly. Therefore, various federal and state organizations and private non-profit charities offer grants to subsidize remodeling costs.

Another resource for assisting a loved one to age in place is through the Medicaid Waiver program.  Traditionally, Medicaid has paid for long-term care in a nursing home, but because most individuals would rather be cared for at home and home care is cheaper, all 50 states now have Medicaid programs that offer at least some home care.

Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides health insurance coverage to low-income children, seniors, and people with disabilities.  Medicaid home care services are typically provided through home- and community-based services “waiver” programs to individuals who need a high level of care, but who would like to remain at home. Medicaid’s home care programs are state-run, and each state has different rules about how to qualify. Because Medicaid is available only to low-income individuals, each state sets its own asset and income limits.

States also vary widely in what services they provide. Some services that Medicaid may pay for include the following:

  • In-home health care
  • Personal care services, such as help bathing, eating, and moving
  • Home care services, including help with household chores like shopping or laundry
  • Caregiver support
  • Minor modifications to the home to make it accessible
  • Medical equipment

Aging in Place will be a term that we will begin to hear more often as the retirement age population grows.  You can begin planning now for your future to age in your home safely and with confidence that your needs will be met by setting in place your “village,” making small home renovations to allow for ease of transition and accessibility, and ensuring that you have a plan in place if you were to need benefit assistance.  To find out more about the Indiana Medicaid Waiver Program and how you can plan ahead to “Age in Place” or to learn more about home care options for your loved one, contact Severns & Howard to schedule your initial consultation with one of our Medicaid Attorneys today.

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