Home Modification: Making The Home Safe for Aging in Place

Low-cost home modification interventions have clear payback in terms of fewer hospitalizations and medical costs in a very short time frame.  Sunlight Support can help coordinate third-party contractors to make this possible.

Basic design and structural modifications average $7,000–$12,000 per one-story residence.  If we use $10,000 as a sample cost for basic structural modifications compared to assisted living costs at $3,000+/month, a simple equation shows that avoiding those costs for a little more than three months will pay for home modifications.  If we include customary expenses for continuing bills such as utilities, taxes, maintenance, etc., of $850/month, food at $250/month, three hours of daily assistance twice weekly at $19/hour or $456/month, and three days per week in adult day services at $800/month, it will take about 14 months to break even on the modifications.

By the end of 24 months there is a net savings near $10,000. But if one hospitalization or one serious fall with medical and health care consequences is avoided, the savings will appear much earlier!!

The following is a general listing of some home modification prioritizations and potential general costs associated.

handrail

Phase 1: Falls Prevention.
Cost: $1000 or less

  • Removing throw rugs
  • Installing grab bars and grips throughout the house
  • Assuring sturdy handrails on both sides at steps
  • Good lighting and switching especially at stairs, halls, and entries
  • Securing or removing carpets at stairs

Phase 2: Entryway and Ease of Movement
Cost: $4,500 to $30,000 (varies)

  • Removing, if possible, or reducing the number and/or height of steps and possibly increasing the horizontal depth of steps for easy side stepping with both hands on one rail
  • A clear, no-step path to the bedroom and bathroom and stair lift for ease of movement from floor to floor
  • Rearrangement or repositioning of furniture, entertainment systems and spaces

bathlift

Phase 3: More Substantial Remodeling and Equipment
Cost: $8,000 to $75,000 (varies)

  • No-step shower or bath lift mechanism, a seated sink, and assistance space at the toilet
  • Seated/multi-level food preparation areas
  • Sun and rain protected outdoor areas
  • Backup power sources for power outages