Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"Making Aging In Place Solutions Available For All"

Aging in place is a worthwhile objective that we want to achieve with everyone remaining in their homes - short-term or long-term. The more comfortable, safe, and accessible we can help make their homes, the longer they may find them desirable to remain in over time.

Budget is often another matter. Some solutions are relatively easy and inexpensive to complete. Other are more complicated and expensive. It's when necessary repairs are called for in homes with small budgets that issues arise.

In working with lower income seniors or other with limited financial means, we are especially challenged. We know that they often face greater safety risks because their financial situation does not allow them to conduct ongoing maintenance or make minor improvements on a as-needed basis. Therefore, they often have the greatest need and the the hardest time paying for such improvements.

This can create the need for innovative solutions - to create very simple and cost-effective treatments for safety and accessibility concerns. In fact, we may connect with the occupant of a dwelling (owner or renter, home or apartment) because of a safety or code infraction that is observed by the local jurisdiction. Maybe they wanted to take care of their situation before it reached the point that it did, or possibly they just ignored it or lived with it. Regardless, it has gotten to the point that action is required. Still, there is no budget (or a very limited one) for the repairs.

Need for assistance or renovation and ability to pay often are not related. Therefore, we have to help the lower income households find a way to make the improvements that will allow them to remain in their homes and enjoy a reasonable degree of safety.

If this is a market we want to serve, we must become good at learning about and finding financial opportunities to assist people in the form of grants, loans, rebates, or discounts. Often sup financial support, materials, volunteer labor, and other types of assistance while repairs and necessary renovations are being made to create a safer living environment for people who can't otherwise afford to make the required improvements to their homes and dwellings.

We definitely need to be more creative in defining and arriving at solutions and in determining priorities. While we might like to make several improvements in a home that has the ability to pay for those changes, we might only be able to make a couple such modifications in a home that has limited financial ability. Both homes have the same needs. It's just that the lower income home cannot pay for the amount of improvements it might need.

This is where being more creative in determining the solutions becomes important. Finding alternate ways or less expensive ways of achieving a reasonable solution to an existing situation will help the occupants enjoy a safer, more enjoyable existence in their home, and we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we could help them when other providers likely would have passed on the project.

When money is not a particular deterrent or factor in suggesting and implementing home modifications and improvements for safety and accessibility, it is not nearly as difficult to envision and create those solutions than is the case when money is tighter. 

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.