Removing Barriers Is Good Insurance

If you have read our previous blogs you know that Sharon and I have been very involved in issues related to universal design and aging-in-place.  Our journey began in the summer of 2012 when we took the three-day National Association of Home Builders Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist course in Denver, Colorado.  While the training was mainly for builders and remodelers, it offered us an opportunity to learn more about the issues and opportunities relating to removing barriers in the home and thus allowing people to remain where they are as they age.

I recently reviewed a 2014 cost of care survey for the State of Oregon and the figures are sobering.  According to the Genworth Financial survey the monthly rate for an assisted living facility in Medford ranges from $2,898 to $5,050 (compared to the state average of $2,196 to $5,463).  Nursing home daily rates in Medford ranged from $254 to $270 for a private room and $154 to $260 for a semi-private room.  Finally, home health aide services in Medford range from $20 to $25 per hour.  It adds up fast.

If you fall and break a hip you will likely be hospitalized and perhaps sent to a rehabilitation facility after that.  If your home is not accessible (narrow doors being the biggest culprit) you may be sent to a nursing home for an extended period of time.

The point I am trying to make is that remodeling a home to remove barriers can be very cost effective versus the cost of care outside the home.  Take the front door for example; to remove the frame and increase the width (ideally for a 36″ wide door) can cost $1,000 to $1,500 depending upon the structure.  Interior doorways may also need to be widened.  At least one entrance to the home should be “no step” and likely will require a ramp.  The cost of a ramp varies widely depending upon the degree of elevation.  The recommendation is you need one foot of ramp length for each inch of elevation.  Thus two six inch steps would require a ramp 12 feet long.

If the cost of removing barriers is too great perhaps you should consider new construction.  The cost of wider doors, no step entry, wheelchair accessible bathrooms is just about the same as standard construction costs and doesn’t have to look like a nursing home environment.  certainly if you are planning to sell your home and “downsize” you should consider building a totally accessible, age-friend, home.  We did and we love it.

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