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Creating a Smart Home for Aging in Place

Thinking ahead about "aging in place," some smart retrofitting steps can allow older South Dakotans to stay in their homes. (Pixabay)
Thinking ahead about "aging in place," some smart retrofitting steps can allow older South Dakotans to stay in their homes. (Pixabay)
March 19, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S. D. – Nearly 90 percent of seniors say they want to stay in their own homes as they age, and a new handbook can help make those homes safer and more comfortable for older individuals.

AARP has introduced its HomeFit Guide, full of tips for making a home as functional as possible.

Lindsey Holmquest, AARP South Dakota associate state director for community outreach, says the guide shows seniors how to take small and large steps to improve the day-to-day livability of their house or condo.

"We're all thinking spring and home improvement, and we know that most South Dakotans want to stay in their home and in their community as they age," Holmquest says, "and a lot of these small improvements can make that possible."

The HomeFit packet includes worksheets to use when answering the questions that appear throughout the guide. Holmquest says the answers to those questions allow a homeowner to create a "to-do" list for projects that can be handled at their convenience.

She points out that some seniors begin to experience reduced eyesight or balance as they age. Easy fixes might be swapping-out handles on cabinets or drawers, or more extensive projects might improve access at the entry of the home.

She asks people to consider, "Are there handrails in the stairways? On those stairs, are there non-slip surfaces for when you're going up and down? Things like, what's the height of your toilet? Those things can be swapped out.

"Accessibility in your kitchen," she continues. "What are the cabinets like? Where is the microwave placed?"

Holmquest says the guide offers many simple, do-it-yourself projects at a price-point most homeowners can afford. It also provides information about how to tackle more involved projects that might need long-term budgeting or require hiring a contractor.

"When folks have this information ahead of time, you can save time, save money. When you're out there looking for quotes, talking to consultants, talking to contractors, the worksheets and the pieces inside this HomeFit packet will just make that so much easier," she said.

The guide is available free of charge, online or by mail. For more information, email 'sdaarp@aarp.org' or call the South Dakota office at 866-542-8172.

According to AARP, even when seniors know they need day-to-day assistance or ongoing health care during retirement, 82 percent say they would prefer to stay in their homes.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD