FRANKLIN — For many people, the home they live in now is the home they intend to stay in for the rest of their lives. But while New England has many colonial homes, often these historic homes, or even homes built before 2010, were not outfitted to make aging in place practical. For those who intend to remain in their homes throughout their life, taking a good look around the home now is essential.

Narrow doorways, steep staircases, second floor-only bathrooms and doors with knobs can go from being a quirky architectural feature to a barrier to aging in a home. Many homes have stairs that lead to bedrooms, leaving those with mobility issues stuck on the wrong floor. Often a den, office or other downstairs room can be turned into a bedroom to allow for single floor living.

Keep safety first in mind when assessing a home. Think of staying safe while cooking, bathing and relaxation if strength and mobility decrease, hearing or eyesight are affected. Consider how a home can be modified to address those potential issues, and then create an action plan to address them. Items such as grab bars in showers or lever-style door handles are inexpensive ways to address some of these issues. Other needs such as ramps into the home or installing a bathroom on the first floor may be more expensive. Identifying what the needs of a home are now will allow people to make those changes at their own pace. Waiting until those issues arise will cause stress and expense, and may make staying in the home impossible.

A visit from a physical or occupational therapist for a home safety evaluation is one way to identify some of these issues, as they are trained to offer solutions for mobility and comfort. Interested people should speak with a health care provider to see if they qualify and get a referral. For those who do qualify, an assessment could be available through a visiting nurse association such as Franklin VNA & Hospice.

For more information, call Franklin VNA & Hospice at 603-934-3454 or visit www.FranklinVNA.org

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