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Where do you want to live as you grow older? Surveys of people aged 50 and older show that a large majority want to age in place, staying in their own homes even as their health needs change. "Many older adults want to remain in the surroundings to which they are accustomed, in their established neighborhood with familiar shops and services," said Valerie Cadenhead, owner of Right at home of Central Arkansas. "Through the years, they have grown an informal support system of family, friends and neighbors. Home is where their roots are!"

But as the years pass, families often wonder if older loved ones are still safe living at home. Those two flights of stairs, that fashionably dim lighting, the vintage claw foot bathtub -- features of the home that everyone took for granted suddenly seem like hazards! It's time to evaluate the suitability of the home and learn about improvements that can help your loved one's house, condo or apartment better meet their changing needs.

Bring in experts

"Anyone can clean up clutter or check a smoke alarm battery. But many home modifications are best left to experts," Cadenhead said. "Poorly planned and built features can be useless and even hazardous."

Cadenhead says it's important to choose a qualified contractor. Ask for recommendations from experts, and check references. She notes that occupational therapists and aging life care professionals (geriatric care managers) can help identify appropriate home modifications for your loved one's needs.

Home safety: the human touch

"There are many joys to living at home," Cadenhead said. "But for seniors with arthritis, visual impairment, the effects of a stroke, or other physical and cognitive challenges, some home tasks just aren't safe, even with home modifications."

This is where professional in-home care can make all the difference. Trained Right at Home caregivers help keep senior clients safe at home.

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