Home Improvements for Your Aging Parents

If your parents are getting up there in age, you may have had – or are – considering having a discussion about their living situation; should they stay or should they go? For many aging adults, the thought of leaving their beloved home and their independence for senior care, is not appealing; especially if they are healthy and mobile. According to a 2011 AARP research report, almost 90 percent of people over age 65 would rather remain at home as long as they’re able, and 80 percent of older Americans have firm plans to stay put1. Fortunately, for all, there are several home renovations that can not only let mom and dad stay put, but also make their independent living the safest it can be!

When you hear the words ‘home improvement’ you may think, construction, time, and a disruption in daily life, but there are home improvements you can make for your parents that require little to no alterations but are high in gains! Take Life Alert Protection’s smoke detection monitors, for instance. Simply installed, Life Alert’s smoke detection units react to the presence of smoke or fire by sending a signal to a team of dispatchers, who monitor the detector 24/7. Life Alert dispatchers can then communicate with the subscriber and send appropriate help; in addition, they can send help even if there is no response from the subscriber. Likewise, Life Alert’s CO Gas Alarm works the same way. Since Carbon Monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, it can build up to dangerous levels in a home without anyone knowing. But with Life Alert’s monitored CO Gas Alarm, a siren will warn of dangerous levels and Life Alert’s dispatchers will send help. So, it is possible for your aging parents to live independently, under the safety of Life Alert Protection.

But if internal home alternations are needed, check out this article, courtesy of USNews , for the pros and cons of various home safety ideas for your parents.

Elevator. Installing an elevator will be a challenge and costly. “Elevators are highly regulated. The structural work required to create a proper, isolated channel can run up a hefty carpentry bill alone,” says Sabine Schoenberg, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based home improvement blogger. The cost, Schoenberg says, depends on the length of the elevator and how many floors it goes to – just the second floor, or the attic and basement as well? As a general rule, she says, expect to pay $30,000 and possibly quitechair lift a bit more.

Stair lift. These are also expensive. “They often require a custom fitting to the staircase. The track is the most costly element of stair lift systems,” Schoenberg says. Still, as prices go, it’s no elevator. You can find quite a few stair lifts online for less than $3,000, but they also run $10,000 and up. And don’t forget installation, since this is a project you probably don’t want to do yourself. According to Mr. Handyman, the national handyman service, the estimated labor to install a stair lift using its franchise averages between $400 and $500.

Walk-in bathtub. These can be helpful for seniors who have trouble climbing in and out of the bathtub. But think it through before you rush out and buy one. Since you have to get in the tub and shut the door and then turn on the water, your parent may not enjoy sitting or standing in the buff, waiting for the water to fill the bathtub. According to the home improvement and contractor review site Angie’s List, these tubs run $2,500 to $10,000.

Widen doors. This may be necessary if your parent is traveling throughout the house in a wheelchair. Cost depends on too many factors to throw out a number with much confidence. But expect to pay at least a couple hundred per doorway – and possibly quite a bit more. Why so much? It depends on the door. “It requires reframing and sometimes moving electrical switches, re-insulating, sheet rocking and painting finishes,” Schoenberg says.

Remote-controlled blinds. A bad set of blinds can be problematic for some seniors, especially if they aren’t very mobile to begin with. That’s why Kim Rush, a design expert at Decorview.com, a custom window treatment website, suggests buying motorized or automated window treatments. “Using a remote control or mobile device, you’re able to set your window coverings without having to stand up and reach across furniture,” she says. Remote-controlled blinds aren’t cheap. According to CostOwl.com, an average 36-inch by 48-inch motorized window shade or blind costs between $300 and $600. And on average, you can expect to pay 10 percent more per foot you add or subtract to the width and height. Installation costs tend to be $20 to $50 per blind.

Disability ramp. If either of your parents is wheelchair-bound, or you think tharamp_woodt day is coming, this is a must. According to HomeAdvisor.com, which provides information about licensed home contractors, the national average price for a disability ramp ranges from $1,408 to $2,012.

Grab bars for the bathroom. These are bars located in the bathtub and next to the toilet, which may make someone unsteady feel more confident, says Ashita Patel, outreach coordinator for Modernize.com, which covers home improvements. “These can be purchased for as little as $20, or a simpler solution is a special commode unit with handles that fits right over your existing toilet. The cost is around $40,” she says.

Lever-style doorknobs. Patel says one of the easiest and cheapest retrofits is to switch traditional round doorknobs with lever-style doorknob handles. “That can simplify a senior’s life considerably,” she says, adding that you can expect to pay $10 to $20 per handle.

Although it may seem that some of these home improvements could be costly, according to Genworth Financial’s 2014 Cost of Care Survey, which was released in April, the national median monthly rate for a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility is $3,5001. That’s $42,000 a year! When considering a large cost such as senior care, the thought of installing a few simple home improvements may start to look a bit better, for both your wallet and your parents!

But perhaps the easiest, most inexpensive way to ensure your parents can get help fast is with Life Alert. The lightweight help button can be worn on the wrist or as a pendant. Since a majority of home accidents occur in the bathroom, Life Alert’s medical alert button is waterproof allowing your elderly parents to bath with it on. Just one press of the button will send the help needed fast. Life Alert knows that in order to provide the best in personal protection, it is important to offer 24/7 service! So no matter when or where your parents may encounter a life threatening emergency, Life Alert has got their backs! To learn more about the many lifesaving services offered by Life Alert, call 1-800-513-2934 for a free brochure.

Works Cited:
1. Williams, Geoff. “9 Home Improvements for Your Aging Parents.” USNews. 15 October 2014.
<http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/10/15/9-home-improvements-for-your-aging-parents >.

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