How to grow old in your own home

Five success factors for you and your loved ones or caregivers to keep in mind.

When Marguerite Sullivan’s spouse passed away, the 78-year-old had no interest in moving. She’s healthy, has many friends, and her two sons live nearby. Plus, she’s a confident driver and gets herself to doctor’s appointments and the grocery store.

Those are all important prerequisites for people who want to stay in their homes as they grow older, or “age in place.”

According to an AARP survey, nearly 90% of those over age 65 want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. But Sullivan and others, who want to stay put as they grow older, “need to have a plan—and a support system—in place that allows them to stay in their community, ideally in their home, as long as possible, and to ensure that they’re living safely and independently,” explains Suzanne Schmitt, vice president for family engagement at Fidelity.

Here are five things that aging singles or couples—and their children, other family members, or caregivers—should keep in mind when assessing the living situation. For more detail, read our new “Aging well: A planning, conversation, and resource guide.”

1. Explore the benefits of staying put.

There are many reasons why aging in place can be a win. For starters, “it may be financially advantageous,” Schmitt says. For instance, depending on the situation, staying in a home can be less expensive than moving to an assisted-living community. There are the upfront costs of moving, an often steep entrance fee, and monthly payments for room and board, which can easily top $3,000 a month.

Even more important are the psychological payoffs of not moving away from one’s established community of friends, medical professionals, and faith community. Though these factors are hard to place a financial value on, they are a vital component of healthy aging.

“The single most predictive factor of whether you’re going to age well—meaning be able to be independent and live a long and healthy life—isn’t money,” says Schmitt. “And it isn’t even necessarily your health. It’s your social connections, which may get lost [if you move], because many people focus more on their finances.”

2. Do a home safety check.

The first step in an “aging in place” plan is to run a complete safety check of your home. “Many people don’t know what to look for,” says Schmitt. “There are some hazards that you might take for granted—for example, furniture obstructing pathways or stairs.”

Sullivan’s children did just that. They walked around her house with an eye for any potential hazards that might cause trouble should her vision or mobility begin to deteriorate. Then they hired a home modification professional to help make needed changes.

The good news is that many of the improvements that may make it easier to stay in your house—such as raising electrical outlets to make them more accessible, and installing brighter outdoor lighting—aren’t expensive.

Sullivan’s home was retrofitted by installing secure handrails alongside the stairs to the front door, switching doorknobs to levers, adding automatic lights to hallways, removing rugs that might become tripping hazards, and placing grab bars in the shower.

“There are plenty of easy options to modify a home,” says Schmitt. “The sooner you start preparing, the better.”

3. Assess transportation.

“Driving may be your lifeline and independence,” Schmitt points out. “Coming to the ‘I don’t think I can drive’ moment is tough, but it can’t be avoided.”

And, although driving might not be a concern now, it may ultimately become one.

If you are at the point that you can no longer drive or walk to the grocery store or reach other important services, consider other transportation options. “If you have public transit, great, but it doesn’t exist in a lot of places,” explains Schmitt. In that case, you may need to make other arrangements, such as ride sharing with friends and neighbors, or transportation assistance that many companion-care services may offer. When it comes to groceries and getting things like prescriptions filled, automatic delivery or online delivery can be a great option. A family or friend can help manage orders and accounts and can track order history to help make sure you are getting what you need.

4. Ensure a supportive community or network.

This is a linchpin: Communications—social connectivity. Think about how supportive the community is where you live.

Isolation can be a stumbling block to aging well. And it can creep up slowly. No matter how safe the inside of a home is, if there isn’t enough interaction with a community, a plan can fall apart.

Are you lonely? Part of aging in place successfully is being able to stay connected, and not fall into the depression that many people experience because they are isolated,” says Schmitt.

Are you comfortable on a computer? Can you connect online with your children, grandkids, and others?

You might also investigate some of the companionship services available in the community, through websites such as Caregiving.org.

Start to pull together a list of people and professionals who can step in and help if you need someone to go along to a doctor’s appointment, or someone to help with errands, or for lunch or dinner dates. If your family doesn’t live nearby, you may want to have a pipeline to neighbors you can call for periodic checkups.

A growing number of communities use the “village” concept for services and support to seniors. The idea, originating in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, is to create a nonprofit organization that arranges for services—including transportation, home repair, and social activities—for a fee.

5. Make it an ongoing process.

“One of the myths is that people think they can make a plan once, and they’re done,” says Schmitt. “This is something that needs to be reviewed regularly by you and your family member or caregiver.”

Once the home is retrofitted, keep an eye open to see if you are having trouble. Friends and family members may want to look out for any unexplained bruising on the aging person’s arms or legs. “It can be an indicator that they may be having trouble moving around,” Schmitt notes. Also, look around the home when you visit. Is there a pile of mail? Are things in disarray? Check the refrigerator. Is it bare? Is food spoiling?

What if you experience a health event, such as a bout of pneumonia that requires a lengthy hospital stay, or a fall that affects your cognitive ability or mobility. These are going to be very important points when you have to take a look at whether the plan you put in place is still going to work going forward.

“In ideal world, we will age gracefully in place, but that doesn’t happen very often without careful preparation,” says Schmitt. “Take the time to sit down and get the aging-in-place conversation going.”

HomeFree Home Modification can help you to “Grow Old in Your Own Home” with greater independence and safety. We provide a FREE home evaluation. You can call us at 770-939-0747, or email at info@homefreemods.com .

Better Living by NewsTalk1160

Safety & Independence Benefits in the Home, Offered by Home Modification

I was recently a guest on the radio show, “Better Living” on News Talk 1160, which airs at 10:00 AM on Sunday mornings. Hosted by Lin Tatum of Homestead Hospice, we discussed “the safety & independence benefits in the home, offered by home modification.”

If you have any questions regarding home modification or if you would like to benefit from our “free ideas,” contact us at 770-939-0747, or email info@homefreemods.com.

Tips for Retiring

It’s not recommended to rely solely on social security benefits in retirement, but it can be done.

Social Security was designed to supplement only pensions and retirement savings. But for many, that’s no longer the case. Among beneficiaries 65 and older, 1 out of 5 married couples — and 2 out of 5 singles — receive at least 90 percent of their income from the program, according to the Social Security Administration.

Living mostly on Social Security alone can be difficult. But here are tips for those near or in retirement who may find themselves in that situation.

Delay Social Security

Of course, if you’re ailing and not likely to live many years in retirement, you’re better off taking Social Security benefits early. But if you’re healthy and have other resources to live off, it pays to wait. Your monthly payment will be 76 percent higher if you wait to start benefits at 70 rather than 62, the earliest possible age.

More on Social Security

By staying in your job longer or finding part-time work in retirement, you can earn a paycheck that can help you postpone drawing on Social Security benefits early.

Do a Social Security do-over

What if you took Social Security early and now regret it? It may not be too late.

If you only recently filed for Social Security, you have up to 12 months to withdraw your application for a do-over. You must repay — without interest — all the benefits you received up to that point. But from then on, your benefit can grow until you’re ready to file again.

If the 12-month deadline has passed, you have another chance to boost your benefit. Once you reach your full retirement age — currently 66 — you can suspend your monthly payments without having to repay the money you already received. Thereafter, each year your payments are in suspension — until 70 — you will earn extra retirement credits that will enlarge your benefit by up to 8 percent annually.

Maximize Social Security survivor benefits

When planning with your spouse about when to take Social Security, don’t overlook survivor benefits. Once one of you dies, your two monthly Social Security checks will go down to one — and the survivor will receive whichever amount is larger. One common strategy is for the higher earner to delay taking Social Security as long as possible to maximize the benefit for the survivor. To explore your options for making the most out of benefits, set up an appointment at your local Social Security office.

Eliminate debt

If you are going to live mostly on Social Security, getting rid of high-interest-rate consumer debt, such as with credit cards, is something you should do before quitting your job. (For those already retired with credit card debt, at least make sure you’re not adding to it.)

Ideally, your mortgage also will be paid off before you quit working.

“Mortgages are often the biggest payment that people make on a monthly basis,” says Steven Thalheimer, a principal at Thalheimer Financial Planning in Silver Spring, Md. “If you don’t have one, you have greater flexibility with your cash flow should something unexpected crop up.” That said, if you still carry a mortgage but it’s manageable on your retirement income, don’t deplete what modest savings you have to pay off the house, says Robert Schmansky, founder of Clear Financial Advisors in Livonia, MI.

Move to a less expensive locale

Downsizing to a smaller place can lower your expenses, but it may not be a significant savings if you still reside in an area with a high cost of living. Consider moving to a place where you can live on much less without any impact on your standard of living. “Especially if you can move to an area that’s warmer so you can save on heating costs,” Thalheimer says. After all, experts say, it costs more to heat a home than to cool it.

Bankrate, a financial website, offers an online tool to compare living expenses from one place to another. For example, if your income is $50,000 a year in Boston, you would need only $30,942 — or 38 percent less — to achieve the same standard of living in Augusta, Ga.

Schmansky says a client of his wanted to move from Detroit to Florida for the warmer weather. Despite Florida not having an income tax, the client discovered that the overall cost of living in Florida — including utilities and property taxes — was too high for him. Instead, he settled in less expensive Knoxville, Tenn., where the weather is still milder than in the upper Midwest.

Don’t forget taxes

As you plot your move, make sure taxes are included in your equation. Fortunately, most states — and the District of Columbia — don’t tax Social Security benefits. Some are even tax friendlier. Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington state and Wyoming don’t tax any income at all. And on top of not taxing Social Security benefits, Oregon and Delaware have no sales tax.

Buddy up

Get a roommate or housemate. This is a common way for retirees to slash living expenses, financial planners say. “Keep in mind the way you lived when you were in college,” Thalheimer says. “What did you do? You shared living quarters.” Having a roommate also prevents isolation that can harm a retiree’s health and well-being, Schmansky says. “Just having that other human contact is absolutely important,” he says.

Take advantage of benefit programs

Those with modest means may qualify for state or federal programs to help make ends meet. For example, Extra Help is designed to assist Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources to pay for prescription drugs. This assistance is estimated to be worth $4,000 a year for those enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program. Find out more information on Extra Help, as well as other state and federal programs, at BenefitsCheckUp, a free service of the National Council on Aging.

Utilize freebies

Libraries, parks and local museums offer a variety of free entertainment. Many continuing living communities, which provide housing for different stages of life, often open their programs and activities to the public, too, says Joan Cox, a financial planner with Personal Financial Advisors in Covington, La.

And if you’re fortunate enough to live in or near a university town, check the school for free lectures and other cultural programs, Cox says.

Additionally, most U.S. colleges and universities allow older students to attend classes for free or at a significantly reduced rate. No college near you? You can still take online courses at top universities offered through portals such as edX and Coursera.

Lastly, ask tech-savvy children or grandchildren to be your “tech consultants” and set up free phone or communication service for you, such as Google Voice, Schmansky says.

Although we are not experts on stretching your Social Security Benefits, we are on home modification, allowing you to remain at home with more independence and safety. Please call us at 770-939-0747, or email at info@homefreemods.com We will respond within 24 hours.

 

With $15 Left in the Bank, a Baby Boomer Makes Peace With Less

Kathleen Wolf never dreamed of spending her retirement in Iowa.
The 68-year-old Californian had a change of heart after filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Ms. Wolf was a millionaire whose fortune, built on buying and selling homes, collapsed in the financial crisis. Her bank balance fell to $15.

Ms. Wolf said her debt-repayment plan, which eventually left her with about $1,000 a month to live on, made clear she had to leave Monterrey, Calif., the central-coast city where she lived. She looked online, as long as 15 hours a day, for places with a low cost of living. In August, she landed in an Iowa town of around 700.

During her nationwide search, Ms. Wolf found that life in affordable communities brought trade-offs. “These places never gentrified. They have undesirable weather,” she said. “They have no yoga classes.”
Yet Ms. Wolf’s journey from tony West Coast to rural Midwest has afforded, to her surprise, a measure of contentment, as well as counsel for the nation’s 75 million baby boomers.

As a group, it is widely known they face a wider savings gap than past generations. What is less well documented is how they have piled up more debt, too.

People in the U.S. ages 65 to 74 hold more than five times the borrowing obligations Americans their age held two decades ago, according to an analysis of federal data by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit policy researcher. Paying it off won’t be easy. Median savings for U.S. households nearest retirement age has dropped 32% in the past decade to $14,500, according to an analysis of federal data by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

The financial crisis weakened many households through lost jobs, pay cuts, home-price declines or a combination of all three. Credit-card debt and medical bills have climbed for many nearing retirement. Some people had children late in life, pushing college tuition costs toward the tail-end of their careers.

“This is the first time where we have seen such a high degree of debt held by people at such a late stage of life,” said Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank AG.

As a result, many senior citizens will either have to work longer, move to less expensive places or pare back their spending—choices that economists say are likely to put a drag on the U.S. economy.
Ms. Wolf, who for years had shopped for food, clothing and luxuries without constraint, now lives within a budget. Until recently, she said, “I didn’t understand the value of a dollar.”

Ms. Wolf was born in Sacramento, Calif., and moved to Monterrey as an early teen in the 1960s, growing up around country clubs and mild weather. She earned two associate degrees in California, trained as an auto-body painter and studied Arabic at the same Monterrey institute that serves many military and federal employees. Though she lived for periods in Oregon, New York and North Carolina, she kept Monterrey as a home base for most of her life.

Ms. Wolf owned several cleaning businesses before turning to real-estate investment in the early 2000s—buying, renovating and selling houses. At her financial peak in late 2005, Ms. Wolf said, she had $200,000 in an annuity. The value of her house and savings surpassed $800,000, and she had an annual income of about $85,000 from various real-estate transactions.

Against the backdrop of the real estate boom, Ms. Wolf thought she would continue prospering financially into her 80s. She bought fur coats, designer handbags, furniture and, in the 2000s, a succession of upscale cars: BMW roadster, a Lexus 420 SL. She paid $17,500 to join the Spanish Bay club in nearby Pebble Beach. “I was just playing being a rich person, I wasn’t rich,” Ms. Wolf said. “What you’re supposed to do with your money is sock it away. I didn’t.”

When the financial crisis struck, Ms. Wolf said it took her two years to curtail spending: “I had never been a budget person.” She also was grieving from personal losses, and eventually fell behind on car and mortgage payments. Ms. Wolf turned from shopping at Whole Foods to Costco to discount-food markets. As her savings and income dwindled, she turned to the Salvation Army for dried and canned foods. Instead of making money flipping houses, she cleaned them.

Her vision worsened, but she couldn’t afford the Medicare copay for a new prescription. To read bills and legal documents, Ms. Wolf said she would press a magnifying glass to her glasses—in Tiffany frames, which she laughs about now.

Ms. Wolf was among many older residents of the broader Salinas Valley—a region encompassing more than 400,000 California residents—who saw their debt grow over the past decade, made worse by the housing crash.
Residents there over the age of 55 now have a greater debt burden than their counterparts in all but two U.S. metropolitan areas, according to an analysis of Equifax data by The Wall Street Journal.

By the end of 2015, residents ages 66 to 70 had accumulated $99,700 in debt compared with $90,600 a decade before; 71- to 75-year-old residents had $73,400 versus $58,800 over the same period; and those ages 76 and older had $52,100 compared with $28,200, according to Equifax data.

Local bankruptcy lawyer Jeremy Peck estimated that half of his clients are now 55 or older compared with only about 10% a decade ago. “A lot of people have not been putting away,” he said. “I just see it.”

The debt buildup among seniors stretched across the U.S. In Bismarck, N.D., 60-somethings accumulated an average mortgage debt of $20,800 in 2015, up from $17,700 in 2013, according to the Journal analysis of Equifax data. In Champaign, Ill., older buyers racked up an average of $5,900 in auto loans, an increase from $3,300 in 2013. In Odessa, Texas, older residents face average liabilities of $31,100, up 14% from 2013, the Journal found.

Debt levels have traditionally peaked for people in their 40s, said Meta Brown, a former senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That is changing. Debt held by borrowers between the ages of 50 and 80 increased roughly 60% between 2003 and 2015, while debt among younger borrowers declined, according to Federal Reserve data.

“We’re in new territory,” said Ms. Brown, who researched debt trends of senior citizens while at the Fed.

Older Americans now have more credit-card debt than younger people for the first time, a reversal from the past, according to an analysis of federal data by the AARP Public Policy Institute. And the amount of student loans held by people 65 and older is accelerating faster than the general population, the Government Accountability Office found.

There are conflicting theories about the impact of growing senior debt. Some economists say they aren’t worried because older Americans traditionally have a lower default rate than the general population. In addition, if seniors work past typical retirement ages, they will earn more wages to tax, have more disposable income and gain a few more years to bolster nest eggs.

Yet it won’t be easy for older Americans to keep working. Some 60% of retirees say they left the workforce earlier than they had planned, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Only one of seven of the oldest boomers—many turning 71 this year—have full-time jobs, according to a 2016 Gallup poll.

“The narrative that Boomers would continue to work forever hasn’t turned out to be true,” said Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief.
Some economists say the growing number of penny-pinching older Americans—and a shrinking U.S. workforce—will depress personal incomes and purchases of everything from shoes to houses, hobbling the economy.
“It’s really hard to get out of this slow-growth trap when your labor force is barely growing,” said John Lonski, a chief capital-markets economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Debt obligations also leave seniors increasingly vulnerable to a recession or another drop in home values, economists said.

“Will they take this debt to the grave? It’s a question begging to be answered,” said Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

In 2015, Ms. Wolf filed for personal bankruptcy. She has since agreed to pay $650 a month until her $31,000 debt is cleared. She decided on the small Iowa town she knew only by description, where she calculated her expenses—housing, taxes, utilities—would be about 77% of the U.S. average.

“The Midwest is the only place in the country where the property is affordable.” Ms. Wolf said.

She sold her Monterrey condo for around $400,000 in 2016—twice what it was worth during the housing-price trough but still $67,000 less than what she paid in 2006. The transaction left her with about $132,000—enough money, she thought, to pay for a new home and expenses in her new town. Leaving Monterrey, her home of nearly 45 years, was tough. After moving out of her house, Ms. Wolf checked into a local hotel where she spent $2,000 stretching her goodbye over a few weeks.

She eventually bought a four-bedroom house for $70,000, about one-sixth the price of the least expensive one-bedroom in Monterrey. The afternoon she moved in, her furniture was still en route from California. She had only a new mattress, which was delivered that day.

On her first morning, she drew a bath in the second-floor bathroom. “I had wanted an old-fashioned bath tub,” Ms. Wolf said. “I was taking a lovely, relaxing bath. I thought I had finally arrived. It’s over.” Afterward, she went downstairs to the kitchen and saw that gallons and gallons of water had leaked. The ceiling was ripped; walls ballooned out and cupboards were soaked. She had to replace plumbing and the ceiling, expenses she didn’t anticipate. Even still, money from her home sale has provided her a cushion for the first time in years, she said. Property taxes are less than one-quarter of what she had paid in Monterrey. She has trimmed her costs by at least half, she said. She is eating well and bought some new clothes. With a new prescription, she has updated her reading glasses.

She will seek a job soon, she said. She has noticed women her age working at local big-box retailers, and she hopes to find part-time work at one of them. Looking back, Ms. Wolf considers herself lucky to have a second chance at securing a decent retirement. “I made it,” she said. “It was a miracle.”

*This article was written by Timothy W. Martin, a columnist with the Wall Street Journal, and appeared on the http://msn.com website on February 17, 2017

These are challenging times for many baby boomers across our country. But the fact remains that 85-90% of all baby boomers surveyed do want to remain at home for as long as they possibly can. We can’t help with financial issues, but we can with helping you to stay home with more independence & safety. Please call us at 770-939-0747, or email at info@homefreemods.com We will respond within 24 hours.

8 Memory Loss Communication Tips

Did you know that spoken words only account for 7% of communication? The remaining 93% is conveyed through body language, vocal tone and pitch. Communication style becomes especially important when someone in your life is living with memory loss.

When communicating with someone suffering from memory loss:

  1. Stand at eye level in front of them so they benefit from seeing your body language and facial expressions.
  2. Slow down your speech because their brains process information more slowly.
  3. Don’t interrupt: take time to listen to the person’s response. If they are especially stuck on a word, kindly supply the word and see how they react. If they don’t appear to want the help, let them manage on their own.
  4. Ask one question at a time and ask questions that require simple yes or no answers. For instance, “Do you want scrambled or fried eggs this morning?” instead of “How would you like your eggs this morning?”
  5. Where possible, supplement your communication with visual cues. Smile often, not only because it conveys warmth and caring, but also because smiling can make you feel better too.
  6. Touch is a powerful communicator. When used positively, touch can convey caring and warm feelings. It only takes a moment to offer a pat on the shoulder or a gentle hand squeeze.
  7. Phone calls are especially challenging for someone who has memory loss because the only communication cues they receive are words (7%) and vocal tone and pitch (38%). Limit phone conversations to a minute or so and say something positive like, “I was thinking of you and just wanted to call and say hello.” Consider using Skype or another one of the visual software methods on a computer, tablet or iPad to communicate.
  8. Spend time together in companionable silence. It can be exhausting for someone living with memory loss to continually process communication. Sit across from the person or at 90 degrees so they can easily see you.

Be aware of how you are communicating and whether it is having desirable results such as smiles, nodding, and looking contented, happy, or relaxed. If not, review your style to see if you should adjust an aspect of your technique.

*Adapted from an article by Karen Love with Advancing Person-Centered Living

Heavy drinking, slow walking may signal future dementia

Researchers make strides in identifying who is at risk.

By Mark Huffman

Two new research studies have shed new light on who will be afflicted with dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, and why. They join the growing body of research that is giving doctors better insight to the aging-related disease that robs seniors of their memory. It’s of growing concern since the large Baby Boom generation is now entering old age and is at risk.

The first study, by researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School, links dementia with heavy alcohol consumption during middle age. It found that middle-aged adults with a history of problem drinking are more than twice as likely to suffer from severe memory impairment in later life.

“We already know there is an association between dementia risk and levels of current alcohol consumption – that understanding is based on asking older people how much they drink and then observing whether they develop problems,” said lead author Iain Lang. “But this is only one part of the puzzle and we know little about the consequences of alcohol consumption earlier in life.”

To find answers Lang and his team investigated the relatively unknown association between having a drinking problem at any point in life and experiencing problems with memory later in life.

“This is a public health issue that needs to be addressed,” Lang said. “More research is required to investigate the potential harms associated with alcohol consumption throughout life.”

Older people drinking more

The finding is particularly troubling in light of recent evidence that more middle-aged and elderly people are abusing alcohol. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence says alcohol and prescription drug problems among adults 60 and older is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country.

It says thousands of older people who need treatment for alcohol dependence aren’t receiving it.

Meanwhile, an international study of 27,000 patients has established an unusual test to determine whether a patient is likely to develop dementia. The test measured how fast the subjects walked and answered a short series of questions. The slower the gait and the more wrong answers, the higher the risk of developing dementia.

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who conducted the study, said people who failed the test were twice as likely as others to develop dementia within 12 years.

Low-tech test

What makes the test important, the researchers say, is that it does not rely on sophisticated or expensive equipment, making it accessible to physicians in remote regions of the world. Testing relies on measuring gait speed and asking a few simple questions about a patient’s cognitive abilities, both of which take just seconds.

“In many clinical and community settings, people don’t have access to the sophisticated tests – biomarker assays, cognitive tests or neuroimaging studies – used to diagnose people at risk for developing dementia,” said senior author Joe Verghese. “Our assessment method could enable many more people to learn if they’re at risk for dementia, since it avoids the need for complex testing and doesn’t require that the test be administered by a neurologist.

Early diagnosis, of course, is critical because it allows time to identify and possibly treat the underlying causes of the disease, which may delay or even prevent the onset of dementia in some cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 5.3 million Americans—about 1 in 9 people age 65 and over – have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. That number is expected to more than double by 2050 due to population aging.

We at HomeFree Home Modification are not experts on “dementia”, but we are experts on helping you to remain at home through home modification. Call us at 770-939-0747, or email us at info@homefreemods.com , and we will come out to your home and provide a NO COST home evaluation to determine what steps can be taken to create a safer environment and more independence for you.

*Mark Huffman has been a consumer news reporter for Consumer Affairs. This article was taken from the issue dated 08/01/2014

Baby Boomers are Choosing to Stay in Their Home as They Retire and Age

Ten Major Reasons to Plan Ahead

Retirement for baby boomers is very different from other generations. Boomers are working later in life, starting second careers and even going back to school. The aging boomer is also doing more volunteering in their communities than ever before. Living well, living comfortably, and wanting to remain in their home and community are goals for many baby boomers.

Here are the ten major reasons that planning for aging home health care can allow you to be successful and in charge of your life for as long as possible:

Freedom
We boomers grew up coming and going as we please. We can be found exercising, surfing the web, and volunteering. Aging boomers are a generation of active individuals that will continue to be active seniors. Remaining at home as we age, will allow us to enjoy the freedom we have become accustomed. It also allows us to maintain our daily routine as our health permits, receive the care we want and in the manner in which we want it.

Safety
As boomers age, our expectations change of what we want and how we want it. Aging Boomers do not want to compromise health and safety. The demands of the baby boomer generation are being heard. A new industry of home modifications has evolved and will change as we age in place. The home environment not only needs to be modified to meet the changing boomers physical needs, but it must be appealing to the eye.

Being able to return home after an illness or sickness from the hospital will decrease risks from hospital acquired infections.

The number one independence robber for aging boomers is falls. A home assessment to address simple home modifications could be made to prevent falls in the future.

Healing
Boomers are better educated health care consumers than past generations. We are more inclined to take a holistic approach to aging. There is no better place to be than in our own home, in our own community and surrounded by friends and family. Being in familiar surroundings promotes wellness of the body, mind and spirit and can extend life. As we age, change increases confusion . Aging in place allows for consistency.

Control
Boomers expect options and choices and want to be an active participant in our own care. Planning ahead to age in place allows the boomers to be able to explore the options, make the choices best suited to our needs. Aging boomers want and expect an individualized plan of care. Aging in place promotes independence and the ability of the boomer to have control over our needs and care.

Personalized service
Aging in place allows one to one interaction with caregivers and providers. As we age and our needs change, aging boomers who age in place will have the ability to receive an individualized approach to specific needs.

Comfort
Boomers are all about being comfortable. Studies show the baby boomer generation wants to stay in their own home and never leave. Aging boomers want quality of life. Aging in place in your own home, surrounded by familiar things and the support of loved ones is the quality of life boomers want and expect.

Healthier, safer and happier life
As we live longer and remain active, boomers are enjoying and demanding a better quality of life. Demands of the baby boomer generation have led to the development of an entire industry to assist us to successfully age in place. Universal Design is changing how homes are built. Technology is making advancements to allow the aging boomer to stay at home. Home is where the heart is. Aging in place allows you to lead a healthier, happier life in a safe environment.

Community
Boomers are aging and active. We are involved in our communities. As boomers age we volunteer, act as mentors and are positive role models for future generations. Communities have a lot to gain having boomers age in place. Active aging boomers support the community by buying locally and contributing to community causes through financial support.

Advanced technology
Advanced technologies are developing new products to enhance the quality of life at home as we age in place. We can now utilize a Wii for exercise and entertainment. Hospitals are using the Wii for rehabilitation purposes. This can increase strength and endurance and flexibility. This activity can also promote balance to decrease chances of falls. Robot vacuums can replace our sweepers and allow the house to be swept without physical strain. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the products and services available to ensure safety and quality of life as baby boomers age in place.

Independence
Studies show that aging boomers fear moving into a nursing home and losing independence more than they fear death. Aging boomers are now dealing with their parents and aging. We are concerned about the emotional and physical well being of our loved ones and are now realizing the impact going into a nursing home has on the entire family.

Successfully aging in place can be accomplished with advanced planning It is time to start thinking about your future needs now.

We at HomeFree Home Modification are not experts on “retirement”, but we are on helping you to remain at home through home modification. Call us at 770-939-0747, or email us at info@homefreemods.com , and we will come out to your home and provide a NO COST home evaluation to determine what steps can be taken to create a safer environment and more independence for you.

The Beauty of “Aging in Place”

Whether it be your bathroom, kitchen, or entry and emergency exit areas, HomeFree Home Modification can create an environment of safety & greater independence for you. In most cases, just subtle changes can make your home more “user friendly”, and offer you a higher quality of life, while aging in place.

At this point, most of us know that the bathroom is the most dangerous room in our home, at least for being susceptible for a fall. There are a lot of things going on in the bathroom; movement, soap, water, steam, all just waiting to create the “perfect” fall. Sometimes, just putting grab bars in can create the stability we need to get us into & out of the tub/shower with confidence, and lessen our chances of a fall. But ideally, taking out the tub, or the threshold of the shower, can create a “barrier free” environment where no “step overs” are needed, and no encumbrances to create a fall. As we age, having the ability to remain at home is a # one priority for most of us. Surveys taken across the country indicate that approximately 85 – 90% of us would like to “age in place” by remaining at home. There is more opportunity to do that now than ever before by having your home “tailor” made to suit your needs through home modification.

Call us at 770-939-0747, or email us at info@homefreemods.com , and we will come out to your home and provide a NO COST home evaluation to determine what steps can be taken to create a safer environment and more independence for you.

How To Improve Posture As You Age

As you age, your spine changes. It can lose thickness and elasticity, which affects your posture and overall health. Strengthen your spine, improve your posture and age gracefully [1] with the following tips.

Why Is Posture so Important?

Poor posture affects your body in several ways: It causes you to slouch and allows your back muscles and bones to shift, increasing pain and stiffness. It also affects your overall alertness, breathing, digestion, blood circulation and organ function.

You may also experience headaches, neck and joint pain, and leg and feet issues because of poor posture — all important reasons to improve your posture as you age.

Sit Straight

Do you slouch as you work online, watch TV or play with your grandchildren? You may not realize that you’re slouching, but your back will feel it. Slouching increases the pressure on your spinal cord by as much as 15 percent.

Make a conscious effort to stop slouching and sit straight. To do that, you’ll need an ergonomic chair. It can be a traditional, kneeling, saddle or recliner chair and will include:

Height adjustment: A pneumatic adjustment lever allows you to raise or lower the chair. If you’re using a traditional chair, your feet will be flat on the floor, your thighs horizontal to the desk, and your arms resting at desk height.

Backrest: With an adjustable height and angle, the backrest should be 12 to 19 inches wide and support the natural curve of your spine.

Seat width and depth: The right chair will include a seat that’s wide enough for your body. Its depth will give you 2 to 4 inches of room between the back of your knees and your chair as you sit with your back against the chair’s backrest.

Adjustable lumbar support: Raise or lower the lumbar support as needed so that you’re comfortable as you sit in the chair.

Armrests: Adjustable armrests allow your arms and shoulders to relax comfortably. If you sit at a desk, implement these suggestions to help keep your spine straight:

Look straight ahead

Put your feet on the floor so that your knees are level with your hips. Adjust the height of your chair or use a footrest, stool, box or pile of books if necessary.
Bring your elbows in close to your side to prevent the temptation to lean.

If you’re looking at a computer screen or reading, place the monitor or book at eye level.

Every 20 to 30 minutes, stand and extend your arms away from your body. This action opens your body, and when you sit down again, you’ll automatically sit straighter.

Exercise Regularly

A strong body and good posture go together. You can achieve both results when you do several exercises regularly that support your spine and improve your back health and posture:

Strengthen your core. The muscles around your abdomen and pelvic area. When your core is strong, those muscles keep you in alignment. As a bonus, a strong core can reduce urinary incontinence and improve your athletic ability. Pilates, yoga, walking and various gym machines and exercises strengthen these essential areas.

Support your spine. The muscles around your spine weaken as you age, so use resistance bands or gym equipment to exercise your back, neck, pelvic and side muscles.
Stretch often. Whether you stand against the wall and make slow snow angels, perform lunges or do twisting lumbar stretches, stretching exercises improve your spine health.

Do resistance training. It can halt or reverse bone loss and osteoporosis [2].

Perform weight-bearing exercises. Walking, running, stair climbing and weight lifting build bone density. Walk daily or hit the gym as you strengthen your spine and posture.

Take up Pilates, yoga or Tai Chi. These disciplines improve your core, flexibility and strength. They’re also easily adaptable to your needs no matter how flexible or strong you are.

Practice balancing. Start by standing with your feet together until you’re able to remain steady. Then practice standing with a staggered stance. Finally, stand on one leg with support from a chair or wall and then without support. As you successfully balance, you also improve your posture.

Improve Your Diet

Believe it or not, what you eat can affect your posture. The right diet strengthens the bones and muscles that support your spine.

Ideally, a healthy spine diet includes an abundance of green, leafy vegetables and a variety of fruits. Eat enough protein and calcium, too. A multivitamin is also essential as you ensure you have enough vitamin D, calcium and other essential nutrients in your daily diet.
Be sure you stay hydrated, too. Water supports the elasticity of your spine’s soft tissue, decreases painful disc bulges or ruptures, and helps your spine maintain its correct shape.

Check Your Medication

The medicines you take address your health issues, but they can affect your posture. Talk to your doctor about your posture and ask if any of your medications or dosages are negatively impacting your posture or spine strength.

Next, ask for a bone mineral density scan. It detects osteoporosis. With the results, you and your doctor can decide if you need hormone-based medications like calcitonin, Evista (raloxifene) or parathyroid hormone or bisphosphonates such as Boniva, Fosamax or Reclast. These medications can stop or reverse bone density loss, strengthen your back and improve your posture.

Your body and spine change as you age. You can fight back and strengthen your spine, though, in several ways. Start implementing these tips today, and you’ll improve your posture and reduce your health risks.

photo: Designed by Freepik [3]

Article printed from Aging in Place: http://ageinplace.com

URL to article: http://ageinplace.com/elderly-health/improve-posture-age/

URLs in this post:

[1] age gracefully: http://ageinplace.com/elderly-health/healthy-aging-nutrients/

[2] osteoporosis: http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/osteoporosis-exercise

[3] Designed by Freepik: http://www.freepik.com/free-photo/human-spine_936311.ht

We are not experts on improving your posture, but we are on home modification. If we can answer any questions for you please call us at 770-939-0747. Also, we will be happy to come to your home at no cost to provide a “safe home” analysis for you. You can email us at info@homefreemods.com.

 

Making Dangerous Bathrooms Safe

Four Tips for Designing an Accessible Bathroom

More than 230,000 people are sent to the ER each year because of an injury sustained while bathing, showering, or using the bathroom facilities. This month, we’re sharing 5 bathroom features that can help reduce the dangers in the bathroom.

  1. Install grab bars. Installing grab bars in easy-to-reach places provides support and balance for entering and exiting the shower or tub. Also consider adding grab bars near the toilets for additional support and safety.
  2. Add shower seats. A shower seat can provide stability and a place to rest for those who have difficulty standing for long periods of time. Builders or homeowners should select a shower with a folding seat installed or purchase a bench seat to add to an existing shower.
  3. Add an adjustable (and hand-held) shower head. This allows the person to direct the water where it’s most needed without having to contort their body into awkward positions.
  4. Fix slippery surfaces. Having a non-slip mat (or decals) on the floor of the shower or tub — as well as a non-slip rug on the floor — provides additional stability and can reduce slipping. A non-slip rug in front of the toilet and by the sink area can also help prevent slipping.
  5. Install taller toilets. Over time, residents may experience increased difficulty lowering themselves onto a low toilet seat and returning to a standing position. A raised toilet (typically 3 to 4 inches) can reduce the amount of squatting and the distance that has to be covered to sit on the toilet.

Universal design doesn’t have to mean that a bathroom takes on an institutional feel. Bestbath offers many unique products — including our Designer Series line of bathing solutions — that will make any bathroom look amazing. For more design ideas, follow our Design Ideas blog and like us on Facebook.

(This article was taken from the November Best Bath Newsletter at www.bestbath.com)