Thursday, March 23, 2017

"There Are Plenty Of Low-Cost AIP Solutions We Can Use"

Aging in place solutions that we recommend to our clients to help them remain living in their homes can range from simple low-cost to essentially free ideas to very elaborate, bigger budget items. There is no "right" idea - it is all client-centric.

Not everyone that needs repairs, renovations, and reorganization to remain in their homes has a lot of money to invest. Even those who do may not choose to do so. That said, there are plenty of low-cost options for people to employ.

While there are plenty of gorgeous solutions from which to choose, very simple ones also are available. In fact, many can be done by the homeowner or renter with a little guidance from us. Some jobs are going to be smaller than we want to undertake so why not empower people to fix their own homes to the extent that they can and are able to do so?

One of the largest areas of concern when we enter someone's home - and the area that they are going to be the most responsible and capable of addressing - is that of clutter, excess storage, and disorganization. We don't know what may or may not be important, relevant, or sentimental to someone and thus worthy or retention by them. As a disinterested third-party coming onto the scene, we cold easily toss almost everything they own as being unnecessary - based on what we see them doing in their space and based on our standards as well.

This isn't the point. We all hold onto things - "stuff." One person's junk is another's treasure we may have heard. So, just because something doesn't seem to have any value or worth to us does not mean that our clients are ready to part with it. Still, it doesn't have to be in the way or preventing reasonable access and visitability in their home.

While we likely would choose to discard the bulk of what we see people retaining (wonder how someone from the outside would evaluate what we retain in our homes?), the bigger challenge - and easiest emotionally for them - is to get them to put everything away. Have them purchase storage boxes and containers, dressers, or cabinets that can house their items. Maybe they will need to consider building more closets or adding shelves to existing closets and cabinets. Maybe a yard sale or thrift store donation is in their future.

If people just put away everything they have - by finding room for it among various shelves, drawers, closet rods, bins, baskets, boxes, and other hiding places (including under the bed) - the floors, countertops, tables, chairs, stairs, and other areas where people walk, use, or see would be from of distractions and potential safety concerns.

Beyond this, simple fixes that homeowners and renters can do themselves - or have done for free by a friend, neighbor, or relative, or relatively inexpensively by a handyman - include replacing harder to use round or egg-shaped door handles with lever-style ones, using single-lever faucets (at least in the kitchen) instead of the dual handle ones, swapping out the older-style small toggle wall light switches with the larger rocker ones, and removing the incandescent and florescent light bulbs in the home and replacing them with the equivalent LED bulbs.

There are other items, but this is a good start. Then we can come along and address larger or more complex issues.

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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. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.