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Home Modification and Repair for the Elderly

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Home modification example bath tub grab bars

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Description

Home Modification and Repair includes adaptations to homes that can make it easier and safer to manage activities of daily living such as bathing, cooking, and stair climbing. Examples include installing grab bars and transfer benches in bathrooms, and ramps and handrails for home access. Alterations to the physical structure of the home can improve its overall safety and condition.

Selecting

There are several ways to get help with modifying and repairing your home. Besides doing it yourself, getting a friend or relative, or hiring a handyman, you can contact a home modification and repair company through your Local Area Agency On Aging.

Still other programs for Home Modification can be found at State Housing Finance Agency, Department of Public Welfare, Department of Community Development, and Senior Center Independent Living Centers. Recommendations from such agencies and programs are valuable to ensure reliability, proper licensure and insurance to avoid potential liabilities, and get fair prices/bids. Accessing creditable references can reduce fraud, as older people can often become prime targets. If further reassurance is needed, check with your local Better Business Bureau or your city/county Consumer Affairs Office regarding the contractor's reliability and performance record.

Benefits

Home modification and repair promotes independence allowing older persons to remain in their homes. The most important purpose of home modification and repair is to help prevent accidents such as falls. Research suggests that one-third to one-half of home accidents can be prevented by home modification and repair. Older people too often live in older homes, 20 years or older, that desperately need some types of repairs and modifications. Home modification and repair can accommodate lifestyle changes along with declining abilities to also increase comfort.

Fees

Insist on a written agreement, with only a small down payment. Have a trusted family member, friend, or your lawyer review the agreement. Make the final payment only after the project is completed. See below for some home modification and repair programs that make loans or provide services free of charge or at reduced rates.

USDA, Rural Development
Offers 1% interest repair loans to very low and elderly homeowners and repair grants to the elderly that qualify. Learn more about housing assistance through the USDA.
Local Community Development Department
Many cities and towns use Community Development Block Grants to help citizens maintain and upgrade their homes.
Local Welfare or Energy Department
Low- income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) & Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) of the U.S. Department of Energy, provide funds to weatherize the homes of lower income persons.
Medicare and Medicaid funds
Available for durable medical equipment such as transfer tub benches and commode frames, with a doctor's prescription.
Local Area Agency on Aging
Funds from the Older Americans Act Title III often can be used to modify and repair homes. Learn more about home improvement assistance through the Department of Health and Human Services.
Local Lenders and Banks
Some lenders offer Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM's) that allow homeowners to turn the value of their home into cash, without having to move or make regular loan payments.

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