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Choosing the Right Home Modification Plan

by Mike Dodd, Home Remodeling Expert
December 12, 2014

Question: I am an 80 year old woman living by myself in a 2-storey house. My children are asking me to remodel the home but I don’t know what home modification would be right for me. What should I do?

Answer: The first step would be to identify a local resource who would be qualified to assess both the condition of your home as well as modifications that would be specific to your individual needs I would begin with the local NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) or NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) trade associations, looking specifically at someone who is CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) certified. An individual with that certification would be best suited to understand the issues that older adults face and could craft a strategy that would be tailored to them.

CAPS-certified individuals might be remodeling contractors or health care professionals such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, etc. The contractor would be in a position to identify areas of the home that would require attention....typically bathrooms, stairs and entrances into the home are the most common areas. A basic safety assessment of the home would be appropriate to mitigate or eliminate fall risks. Most of that analysis is common sense based: removing loose throw rugs, relocating lamp cords from traffic areas, installation of lever-style handles at doors, etc. A health care professional brings knowledge of medical diagnoses and how a condition will manifest in an individual's ability to function in their home. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a person allows the medical and construction professionals to design accommodations that will work both in the near term as well as the long term.

Involving members of the family is always a good idea. A contractor would typically present a proposal for the suggested modifications that are based upon the health care professionals recommendations. The health care professional may present an additional report outlining their recommendations for maximizing safety in the home.  Bringing all the parties together would allow for an exchange of information and to move forward with a plan that is acceptable to everyone.

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Mike Dodd is the founder and President of Lifewise Renovations, that combines home remodeling project management with the expertise of health care professionals, to make it possible live safely and comfortably at home regardless of age or physical ability. As a member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Mike holds the Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) designation.

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