Simple fixes around the home allow for older Americans to stay in their homes

Posted at 6:23 PM, May 02, 2019

Research from AARP indicates that an overwhelming majority of adults over age 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age, yet many don't see that happening for them.

"We've been in this house 40 years," says Ken Paulsen. "It's not a palace but I love it."

Nowadays Paulsen's favorite place in his "palace" might just be the bathroom. It's all because of a bench he got about a month ago.

Ken's wife Kay Paulsen said, "It changed, dramatically changed our lives."

The 84-year-old is a polio survivor. For the last seven years, Paulsen's wife took him to a local recreation center to shower, because he could not get lift his legs into the bathroom tub.

"It just is a three-hour process from the time we leave till we walk in the door," she said. "And three hours three days a week. It it's tough."

Before they bought a $50 tub bench, moving out was a possibility. Paulsen's new tub bench cut shower time from three hours to 30 minutes.

"It was such a simple simple fix to make our lives so much better," Kay Paulsen says.

Occupational therapist Nancy Dillinger made the recommendation.

"When you do this every day you think everybody knows about this stuff, but they don't," Dillinger says.

Dillinger is the founder of Live Life at Home, a company dedicated to helping people age in place, or stay in their homes as independently and safely as possible.

"The home represents more than just a place to sleep," Dillinger explains. "It's a place for memories. It's a symbol of independence."

According to AARP, nearly 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age. 82 percent want to stay even if they need day to day assistance. And the housing features most important are on slip floors, bathroom aides like grab bars, personal alert system to call for help, and entrances without steps.

Now Dillinger is working with a contractor on her next recommendation for Ken, a grab bar in the shower.

"Sometimes a grab bar is really what's needed," says Mike Kirby, a home modification specialist with Accessible Systems. "It's just sometimes the little things that can make their day a little bit safer and better."

Dillinger also recommended foam tubing for utensils, long handled combs, brushes and sponges for Ken Paulsen.

"It makes me more optimistic that I'll be able to stay here the rest of my life," he said.

If you want to find resources available in our area, go to eldercare.gov and put in your zip code. It will show services like legal and financial support, caregiving services, home repair, modification and transportation.