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Age in Place Safely at Home

Sometimes it can be the littlest things that make a world of difference. That certainly can be true when making home a safe place to live as we grow older.

Getting rid of a throw rug, adding a grab bar or installing an outside light, are just a few of the things that can prevent falls, saving a lot of pain, hassle and money! We are going to enumerate more of those practical improvements today, but first we will review a little from last week.

In that blog, we talked with Kathy Jones, an information specialist at the Aberdeen office of the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. She gave us lots of good information about how changes in the physical environment of the home can often transform it into a truly viable option for people to live in safely as they age.

A great source of information and details about a variety of programs such as the Medicaid in-home care program called COPES and a newer program called “Tailored Support for Older Adults,” the Olympic Area Agency on Aging also provides some information on the USDA Rural loans and grants available, and even has a fund itself for minor home repairs.

The Aberdeen office of the Olympic Area Agency on Aging can be reached at (360) 532-0520.

In addition to Kathy, we spoke last week with Michael Bradrick, owner of Live at Home on Your Own, a Montesano-area construction company. He gave great tips about a variety of helpful, independence-giving changes in a home from railings to replacing current bathtubs, to installing new grab bars, or even newly designed towel bars, toilet paper holders, soap dishes and shampoo trays that can provide 250 to 500 pounds of grip and fall support!

This week we will share more information from Kevin Holt, Sr. of the Kevin Holt Company of Ocean Shores, who also specializes in these kinds of home projects.

“Our sole goal is to keep everyone in their home as long as absolutely possible,” said Kevin. “That includes creating adaptions for getting in and out of the home as well as adaptions for getting around inside the home,” Kevin said.

Both he and Michael say when it comes to ramps, they prefer using the metal ones that are better suited to our weather and can be easily transferred to a new residence.

Often it’s friends or relatives of an older person who initiate a careful look around a home. A good place to start, the experts agree, is making sure that clutter and other tripping hazards are minimized.

“We take a look to see that hallways are clear and look at the thresholds of rooms and where the carpets stop and start,” Kevin said. “Sometimes we end up installing a handrail in the hall all the way to a bedroom,” he said.

One simple fix in the bathroom is to either get a toilet seat adapter to add height or even replace a shorter toilet to the “comfort” height that makes it easier for just about anyone to use. Another relatively inexpensive change is to install grab poles near a bed or favorite chair, Kevin said, to give the homeowner an aid to getting in and out.

“Also, sometimes beds and couches need to be raised or lowered,” he said. “You can also buy a recliner that can rise slowly and actually bring you up to a standing position,” he said.

Sometimes with wheelchairs or walkers to accommodate, an entry way to a home needs a little remodel or a bathroom doorway needs to be enlarged. Sometimes the fix can be as easy as gaining a few inches by replacing a door with one that has hinges that allow it to open wider.

Being able to shower or bathe safely and with as much independence as possible makes a huge difference in someone’s life, Kevin said.

“I remember one case of a gentleman who literally hadn’t showered for months. He had a tub he couldn’t get into," Kevin recalled. "I replaced it with a barrier-free shower. A few weeks later when I went to see how it was working for him, I was met by a totally different person who opened the door! Before he had a crest fallen face and wasn’t too happy about having to make a change, but the man who greeted me was well groomed and cheerful. That was a life-changing experience for him and for me, just to see what a difference an accessible shower could make.”


Hey Aberdonians, Spring Cleanup is coming your way soon, as you tidy up around your house, garage and environs, keep in mind that you can have a free dump day at the LeMay Transfer Station during April. We will have more details about the Aberdeen Spring Cleanup as well as other area's cleanups in next week’s blog.

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