Actually you may not need to imagine it for long- if you wait long enough it will happen anyway. So why are we having this conversation? The American dream is to own our own home and most of us do. If you are approaching your elder years – or have elderly parents – who have decided to age in place, it’s important to discuss how to best reconfigure your homes to accommodate your new or changing needs. Why would that matter to you?” As you’re trusted financial advisor, we know that re-configuring a home can be costly and that impacts your financial plan.
A smart first step toward sound, long-term, eldercare planning is to focus on the safety of the home to prevent accidents that can be life-changing and potentially wipe out your savings.
Working in partnership with The Center for Innovative Care in Aging at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Legg Mason developed a Home Safety Assessment Checklist – a guide to the features of a home that may be unsafe for you or their parents as they age.
Here is just a snap-shot of the important questions seniors aging in place should consider:
•Is there significant lighting all around your house?
•Are your driveway and walkways smooth and evenly paved and is the slope low enough?
•Are your steps even and in good condition, and are there hand rails at all steps?
•Does your porch have a railing?
•Does your decking have secure floorboards with no nails sticking up?
•Is there a clear pathway (devoid of clutter) through the entry hall and hallways?
•Are there grab bars in the bathroom?
•Is furniture stable and do throw rugs have anti-skid backing?
•Do windows and doors open easily?
•If necessary, is the entryway wide enough for a wheelchair/ walker?
While there are many easy and inexpensive improvements that can be made to help improve safety such as grab bars in bathrooms, handrails and wider entry ways, other changes might be substantial. It’s important to keep in mind:
• If you have Medicare you can ask your primary doctor for a prescription for a home safety evaluation from an occupational therapist who has the skills and knowledge to evaluate the safety of the home.
• Any home modifications made should be conducted by licensed and bonded contractors that are familiar with Universal Design principles.
For further information: Download “Aging clients and their families”, a new whitepaper by Legg Mason in collaboration with The Center for Innovative Care in Aging .
As Billy Crystal said in the movie “The Grandparents”: “I look ten years younger than my age and I feel ten years younger than that!”