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Making Homes Safe for Seniors

by Tom Townsend, Denise Townsend Group

In a 2010 AARP study, nearly three quarters of the people surveyed said they wanted to remain in their own homes as long as they can.

As we age we become more fragile and living in our homes become more challenging... and risky.  Health issues and side effects from medications increases the chance of injury.  Falling risks also increase, the leading cause of death for those over 65.

However, 48% of home accidents experienced by seniors are avoidable.

Adult children need to be aware that their senior family members (SFM) needs and abilities are ever changing.  And they can happen fast.  Keeping up with modifications could mean the difference of a SFM living in their own home or in a care facility. 

It's very important that adult children take at least one day a year to perform a thorough safety inspection of their SFM's home.  About two-thirds of adult children say their SFM has at least 1 safety hazard in their home.  However, about 70% of seniors say their homes need no modifications and are safe.  Father knows best?  See the problem here?

Only 18% of senior homes have safety modifications/fixes made by either the SFM or their children.

The most common safety hazards are:

1) Tripping hazards

2) Bathrooms without assisting equipment

3) Storage too high or too low

4) Poor lighting

 

Here's just a few thing things you can do to make your SFM's home safer:

Clear fire escape routes.  Have an escape plan.

Have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure they work.

Have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

Remove unused furniture and clutter.  Furniture that may be leaned on needs to be stable.  If not, remove it.

Clear paths in the home for movement, and once cleared, don't rearrange furniture.

Cushion sharp corners on furniture, walls and cabinets.

Remove throw rugs.

Repair loose carpet and tiles.

Use non-skid wax on floors.

Place colored tape or removable decals on glass doors and windows to mark them from accidentally walking in to them.

Increase wattage (only to manufacturers recommended maximum) on bulbs in bathrooms, bedrooms, stairwells, halls and outside.  No-glare bulbs (indirect light) are best.

Use automatic night lights in well traveled areas.

Install grab rails in bathrooms and tubs.

Convert faucets handles to lever-style ones.

Replace wall mounted shower heads with a hand held shower head and hose.

Use non-skid mats in and out of the tub/shower.

Use a toilet seat that is a different color than the toilet bowl.

Consider using monitors and intercoms inside and out.

Remove raised thresholds, fast closing doors.

Replace round door knobs with lever-style knobs.

Make sure electric and telephone cords are out of the way and secured.

Make chair seats 20" high.  Arm rests should be sturdy enough to support weight.

Have friends, neighbors and family clear snow, ice and leaves outside.

For wheel chair and walker use:

Consider automatic door openers.

Allow 18-24" clearance from the door on the landings.

A minimum of 32" is needed for wheelchairs to access doorways.  Widening a door can be done by removing trim or with offset/swing-clear hinges.

If access to a second floor is needed, install a chair stair elevator.

 

Most changes can be simple, inexpensive and done by the SFM or adult child.  Others may cost a bit more.  A licensed professional should be hired to perform major changes for safety and liability reasons.  There are government and non-profit groups that are available to help seniors with modifications.  Some are free or at a lower cost.  A lot of repairmen and contractors offer a senior discount.  Churches may also have people who can assist you.

See these links on obtaining government grants.

http://www.ehow.com/info_8629734_government-grants-senior-home-repairs.html

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/grants-senior-citizens-fix-up-homes-53480.html

 

Here are some other helpful links, some of which added information to this blog.

Stay safe!

 

http://www.caring.com/articles/senior-home-safety

http://www.csa.us/freeresources/freeguide/homesafetyguide/

http://www.caregiverstress.com/senior-safety/making-home-safer/safety-checklist/

http://stopfalls.org/

http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/index.html

 

Tom Townsend, Broker, SRES

Denise Townsend Group

Keller Williams Sunset Corridor

1915 NW Amberglen Pkwy #250

Beaverton OR 97006

503-504-3961

55+: Why Sell? Why Stay? How to Prepare. Part 3 of 3

by Tom Townsend, Denise Townsend Group

Part 3, How to Prepare

There is no doubt about it, moving is a lot of work.  Selling your home, buying a new one, working with agents, buyers and sellers, getting both homes ready, changes of addresses, and packing - just to name a few - is time consuming.

It's also something that shouldn't be done alone.  Seniors need to share their plans with their family and get them involved.  This reduces the stress and questions over aging, health, health care, safety, distance, finance and inheritance. 

This blog, and the 2 parts previous, need to read and planned with everyone in the family.

 

It's you that's moving...

 

Start thinking and planning on the years ahead

Start now!  (Even if you are not close to retirement).  Where do you want to be?  How do you want to spend your time.  What size home do you want?  Will children and grandchildren be visiting? 

Prepare emotionally

It's hard to move and leave those memories behind.  I've personally experienced this with my grandfathers home.  After most things were moved out, I was walking through it and had almost 50 years of memories flashback.  Again, it's hard to let go.  But, eventually we must.  Start focusing on your new life and make it a positive experience.

What's your income level going to be?

The best thing to do is meet with your financial planner and decide what you can afford to do during your retirement.

How long will you work?

As posted in Part 2, people are working in to their later years.  This will definitely make a difference in what you do and how you do it. 

What is my home worth?

Hopefully you do not have to move when the market is down.  Although their is no crystal ball to foresee this (I wish), talk to an agent for a free market analysis.  Here is our link.  No mater what the market is, it doesn't hurt to find out.  We'll let you know if the time is right for you.

Here's to your health

As posted in Part 1, health can play a huge role in what you do.  It's the difference between a home, assisted living or a care facility.  If you are going to buy your own home consider it's size, number of levels and access.  While shopping for a new home keep these things things in mind. Remodeling before moving in is a great time to adjust for possible aging and health concerns.

Are my children financially fit?

Because of the recent economy, a lot of children are moving back home or may be there now.  This can put  a halt to your retirement needs, temporarily or permanently.  If there is a possibility of your children and their families moving back, and you intend to help them if that were to happen, have a contingency plan for your retirement dreams. Remember, Family Feud is a game show, not something you want to experience in real life.

Keep your home up to date

What seems to have been great over the last 40 years to you probably will not be great to someone in todays market.  Outdated homes generally sell for less.  So do homes that have not been maintained.  Don't put things off because you are moving.  Buyers will ask for repairs.  Some lenders will too in ordered for the buyers loan to be accepted .  Not doing repairs may cost you the sale, and a failed sale puts up a red flag to other buyers, which makes it tough to get people interested in your home.  As far as updates, consider spending some money to make money.  Your agent can give you insight to what should and what could be done to to help your home value.

Take, give and throw away

Do you have 40 years of treasures?  20?  5?  Even if it's a few years off, start organizing and cleaning now.  Decided what to keep, what to give to family and friends, what to donate and what needs to be thrown away.  Unsure?  Put it in a box and put that days date on it.  If you haven't opened it up in a year, toss it.

 

Is it your parents/grandparents moving...

 

Express your concerns and be empathetic. 

Don't push unless it's serious or a timing issue.

Support them through all aspects of the move.

Ask questions they may not ask, or may be afraid to ask, about the process, details, etc.

And most importantly, think of them, not you.

 

As an SRES, Seniors Real Estate Specialist, I have the training to meet your needs.  Our Team, including my wife Denise who has been a realtor for 24 years, are here to help.  We live by our motto: "Results with a Caring Touch".

Other experts to consult during the process are your mortgage office, accountant, financial planner and lawyer.  Don't have one of these?  Call us.  We have a large referral network.

Take care!

 

 

Tom Townsend, Broker, SRES

Denise Townsend Group

Keller Williams Sunset Corridor

1915 NW Amberglen Pkwy #250

Beaverton OR 97006

503-504-3961

 

 

55+: Why Sell? Why Stay? How to Prepare. Part 2 of 3

by Denise Townsend Group

Part 2, Why Stay?

 

Aging in Place.

A lot of our grandparents and great-grandparents had plans to retire and move somewhere else.  Become a Snowbird and live in Florida for the winter months.  Move to that second home in the country.  Buy a smaller home in a retirement community because the kids were gone. All this was common.  Not so much anymore.  "I'm going to stay here until the day I die" is now often said.  People have spent years making a home a home.  Homes can be modified to meet your aging needs.  Home health care and delivery services is becoming common and a preferable choice rather than hospital or nursing home care.

Working in to their later years.

In some cases this is necessary to make ends meet financially.  For others, the idea of retiring and taking it easy sounds good until they try it.  Boring!  Working full-time past retirement age is becoming more and more common.  So is working part-time.  Baby Boomers don't want to take it as easy as their Silent and GI generation parents.

People are healthier, living longer.

Marketing, self-awareness, education and medical breakthroughs are keeping us around longer, and generally healthier.  Remember, Boomers are "forever young".  And they want to stay that way.  Health and home goes hand in hand.  As long as they can keep up the home, and get around it, they're staying.

Cautious of the markets.

Those approaching or in retirement age remember the recessions of 1980, 2000 and 2008.  Housing markets are not predictable.  Some people are shy to make a move from a home with equity, paid-off or nearly paid-off.  It's become a wait and see approach for some.

Children.

Many people choose to stay close to their families. Even if they have to move for some reason, they want to be within a few hours drive.  Younger Boomers may still be raising children at home.  Due to the latest recession, children are moving back home or staying after college due to the lack of jobs.  And there is a rise in the number of grandparents raising their grandchildren due to family and financial issues.

Houses are an investment.

The GI and Silent generations didn't look at real estate as a big investment.  It was just a home.  Not so with the remaining generations.  And walking away from an investment is not an easy thing, or even an option.

No urgent needs.

If it's not broke, don't fix it.  Why move if you are financially set to stay.  Your health is good so there are no worries about maintenance or getting around.

 

Tom Townsend, Broker, SRES

Denise Townsend Group

Keller Williams Sunset Corridor

1915 NW Amberglen Pkwy #250

Beaverton OR 97006

503-504-3961

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