Thursday, February 13, 2014

Home sweet home is accessible

As Baby Boomers continue to retire or plan for retirement, they are faced with the choice of staying at home or going to an assisted living facility. 

Often the option of staying home is only doable if the home is accessible, allowing the owners to access and safely use their environment. However, planning for this last minute isn't a great idea - cost, research, and time for renovations can make it a difficult process. 

Having the laundry facilities in the basement, stairs to the front door or difficult to use door knobs and other hardware are just a few things that need to be considered. While homes that are built with these things in mind are the ideal, often this isn't the case for homeowners.

The solution is to modify the home to improve accessibility. Some modifications can be made easily like switching doorknobs that require pulling or twisting for ones that are levered or keyless entry. Other modifications like stair lifts are more expensive and require structural changes.
There are many options for home modifications,
like this cabinet with a built-in lift controlled by a remote.

Utah's ASSIST Inc. is a non-profit providing expertise in the area. A free pdf book on home modifications is available online. Tips on taking measurements, options available and other resources are in the book.

Funding help for home modifications in Utah include ASSIST's Emergency Housing Repair, and loans from the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation

UATF loans can be up to $50,000, and are through Zion's Bank. They are low-interest at half the rate of prime interest. Utahns with disabilities can use funds to make modifications such as installing lifts, changing bathroom facilities to be accessible and putting ramps in.

It is also important to consider home accessibility even if it doesn't affect you - it may one day affect your family when visiting or as parents who are aging move in. An accessible home is a place where everyone can be independent. 

For more ideas on home accessibility, check out UATP's Pinterest board

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