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Home Modifications for Happier Aging in Place

Mrs. Jackson made the decision that she will be a happy retiree by continuing to live alone in her 40-year house, next to her neighbors, nearby her doctors, where she raised her children. She, unfortunately, took one wrong step and ended falling while trying to get out of her very own bathtub.

While happiness is a human pursuit, at times, we aim at realizing it without creating the right environment to grow such hoped for happiness. As we age, our physical, cognitive, sensory abilities change, at the time when our surrounding environment remains the same. This mis-match unfolds unforeseen environmental barriers which limits our ability to participate in a lifestyle to our liking leading to depression and a sense of inadequacy. One need to ask: Why would you continue to don your old clothes when your taste, weight and even have not, over the years, remain the same? You probably would consider updating your wardrobe, Right? Living in the right environment serves to enable happiness, allows one to live in an accessible, safer environment that promotes function, enhances independence, and consequently leads to happiness and satisfaction.

The person-environment-lifestyle mis-match not only leads to frustration but as well to more accidents. More seniors are dying from falls, nearly three times more in 2016 than in 2000. Seniors who live in a confining environment become more sedentary which increases their risk of falling. Many seniors, mistakenly, think that falling is inevitable. A combination of evidence-based interventions has proven to be effective to prevent falls, including home modifications. Falls is leading is the cause of non-fatal injuries, one fourth of older Americans attend emergency department due to falls, up to 800,000 visits per year. The biggest risk from falls is hip fractures, which can be fatal. Many adults who fall curtail their activities due to fear of falling again, leading to loss of mobility, weakness, depression, social isolation, and sense of helplessness.

One intervention that serves to enhance an individual’s function and to promote safety is achieved through considering modifying ones living spaces. Home modifications are intended to create a more accessible and safer environment that matches the individual’s needs, goals, abilities and limitations. Our company is specialized in assessing re-designing living spaces for seniors, and for those with disability for sake of enabling them to continue to live in, and to access various parts of their homes safely and with dignity.

As a small, women-majority-owned, Maryland –based business, our staff who are licensed Occupational Therapists have the medical background with knowledge in the fields of disability and rehabilitation, as well, are trained in the field of American Disability Act (ADA). Having such unique trainings put our staff at an advantage that enables them to create customized accessible environments. As to best assist our clients, we provide full service line of home modifications including home safety assessment, architectural design, installation of equipment, building/renovating structures, and finally training individual to be able to use their new designed environment safely.

To do so, we collaborate with architects, home builders and durable medical equipment providers to create barrier free/accessible environments for individuals to promote their ability to conduct daily routines safely and more independently.

Our approach which is based on our knowledge, certifications and training in fields of American Disability Act (ADA), Universal design principals, aging in place, and on years of providing direct clinical care for individuals with various medical conditions including strokes, brain injuries, arthritis, amputations, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and more.

Our commonly completed home modifications include, and are limited to the following:

1. Kitchen: Adjustable kitchen counters, front loading appliances, levered faucets, pull down shelves.

2. Bathroom: Wheelchair maneuverable bath, curbless slip-resistant shower, hand held shower, grab bars, shower seat, high toilet/railings, wall mounted sink, anti-scald levered faucets.

3. Entrance: ramp, wider doors, eliminate thresholds, swing away offset hinges, levered door knobs.

4. Mobility: stairlifts, hand-railings, bed railings, wheelchair lift, ceiling lift.

5. Safety: decluttering, throw rugs, emergency lifeline, lighting fixtures, motion sensors, home automation.

While home modifications can be costly, the cost remains much less than those medical bills one may incur following a fall. Local and Federal funding is available through various sources, including Department of housing, Veteran’s Affairs, Department of Disability, Center for Independent Living.

Following a decade of serving older Marylanders, we have been, and continue to keep more individuals at home safely and to maximize their participation in a productive lifestyle.

Maher Kharma

Aging In Place/Accessibility Specialist

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