According to AARP's Home and Community Preferences Survey, 77% of adults 50 and older hope to age in place. This will be easier said than done for many.
Aging in place requires keeping the home in a safe living condition. This means paying for regular home maintenance and repairs, which often includes home modifications. The cost of these services can be prohibitive for seniors who don't have much more than their monthly social security to get by, causing delays for these needed services.
Here is a look at how easily a neglected home repair or modification can become a safety hazard for the elderly, and how you can help find home repair assistance for elderly loved ones or yourself.
Home Repairs and Senior Safety
Most seniors require a number of services to age in place, and home maintenance is no exception.
One of the challenges of aging in place is that it becomes harder to afford home maintenance and repair services once you're on a fixed income. For some repairs, the longer they are put off, the more expensive they become.
For example, clogged and broken gutters can cause costly roof damage. A neglected HVAC system could eventually require a complete replacement.
Neglected repairs can also create safety hazards in the home. What seems like a small roof leak can lead to mold and mildew growing in the house, which can be harmful for both the structure of the home and for the health of those living there. An A/C unit that is not cooling efficiently or is broken can be fatal during the scorching summer heat.
Aging in place safely might also require some home modifications. Installing grab bars in bathrooms or replacing a bathtub with a walk-in shower may be necessary. Gripping things can become difficult for seniors with arthritis or other conditions. Even something as simple as replacing round doorknobs with lever knobs might be required. The inability to pay for these home repairs and modifications, major or minor, can lead to unsafe living conditions and costly injuries. So where can you find help for elderly people with home maintenance needs?
Safe and Good-value Resources to Help Seniors With Home Repairs and Modifications
You can find several resources that assist the elderly if you know where to look. Here is a list we compiled of resources that provide aid for elderly people who require home repairs or modifications.
Each program has its own income requirements and some only perform certain types of repairs or modifications, but it’s worth looking at each program's qualifications and services.
Rebuilding Together | Safe at Home Program
Most seniors who hope to age in place do not live in a home designed to accommodate the physical changes that come with age. Even a small age-related disability can make everyday tasks hard to perform.
Rebuilding Together is a national non-profit organization that provides home modifications to enable low-income elderly and people with disabilities to continue living independently. Their Safe at Home program was designed to reduce the risk of falls, improve home accessibility, and facilitate aging in place.
The Section 504 Home Repair Program
The Section 504 Home Repair Program provides grants to elderly, very low-income homeowners in rural areas, to improve home safety and eliminate health hazards. A household is considered very low-income if it receives below 50% of the median average income for the home's area.
The Section 504 Home Repair Program is only available to those who live in rural areas. Those who live in metropolitan areas do not qualify for this program, regardless of income.
Discounted Contractor Services
Many service providers offer senior discounts. Some contractors in your area may provide senior citizen help with home repairs or essential home modifications at a reduced rate.
It is worth calling around to several contractors to find out if they provide discounts for seniors requiring home repairs or modifications. Some may only reduce their fee for low-income seniors or charge on a sliding scale, based on income. But it can be worth the time to do some research if it means being able to get the necessary repairs completed.
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) can help your aging loved one stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It provides programs that reduce health and safety risks that arise from inefficient and unsafe heating and cooling.
The LIHEAP helps low-income households pay for home weatherization, energy crisis assistance, and home repairs that improve energy efficiency. Additionally, this program can help the elderly who qualify with their cooling and heating bills.
The Weatherization Assistance Program
Without regular weatherization maintenance, homes become less energy-efficient over time. This can result in increased energy bills that can potentially cost hundreds more per year.
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) provides financial assistance to low-income households to help weatherize their homes and make them more energy-efficient. The monthly savings from these services can be substantial.
Some weatherization tasks the WAP can help with include:
- Repair or replace heating and cooling units
- Repair or replace water heaters
- Minimize air infiltration with weather stripping, caulking, and window and door replacement
- Install attic and floor insulation
- Install attic ventilation
Long-Term Care Insurance Home Modification Benefits
For seniors with long-term care insurance policies, some policies cover home modifications. Some possible equipment and home modification benefits could cover:
- Grab bars
- Walk-in showers
- Raised toilets
- Stair or bed rails
- Wheelchair ramps
- Power recliner or chairs
- Wider doorways
- Accessible light switches and electric outlets
- Low-pile carpeting or other flooring
Need Senior Services for Home Repairs?
Whether you are a retiree hoping to age in place or have an elderly loved one who wants to stay in their home, you will not want the house to become unsafe.
Hopefully, with this list of resources that provide help for seniors with home repairs and modifications, you will find an affordable option for getting the work done.
If you live in Central Arkansas and have questions about the senior services in your area, contact CareLink today. We’ll help connect you with available resources that can assist with aging in place and other senior citizen advice.