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By the end of this decade, all members of the Baby Boomer generation will be at least age 65. Remaining in their home as they age is a priority. Unfortunately, most homes lack key design elements to address mobility limitations commonly experienced by older adults. Often on fixed incomes and with a pressing need, older home owners may face expensive, lengthy, and complicated home modifications.

“We are on the edge of a home modification crisis,” says Leacey Brown, MS, SDSU Extension gerontology field specialist. “Older adults and people with disabilities often require home modification, but design elements like wide halls and doors can benefit everyone.”

The Voices for Home Modifications Coalition was formed to increase knowledge and awareness about the role home design plays in quality of life. With over 20 members from across the Dakotas, the coalition has representation from architects, interior designers, emergency services, long-term services and support, certified aging in place specialist, and other stakeholders interested in home modifications.

A Home Modification Toolkit is being developed to advance the effort and encourage home builders and home owners to consider and invest in accessible home design and modification practices. The toolkit include a list of reputable companies, resources for covering home modification costs, and testimonials from individuals who have modified their home. The Adaptable Home Certification Overview on the SDSU Extension website explains the four required features of an adaptable home.

“It’s important to tell the real stories of home modifications,” said Brown. “Many older adults are living in an unmodified home. Their goal of aging in place may be out of reach because they have not invested in home modifications. This coalition is taking first steps toward a future where every home is accessible to every person.”

The coalition is seeking individuals willing to share the story of how home modification or design impacted their ability to remain in their home as well as organizations interested in joining the coalition. In addition, business promotion sponsorships are available with contributions used to support costs associated with the video testimonial and toolkit production costs.

To get involved in the Voices for Home Modification Coalition, contact Leacey E. Brown, South Dakota State University Extension Gerontology Field Specialist, at 605-394-1722 or leacey.brown@sdstate.edu.

Source: Great Plains Quality Innovation Network Q Insider | January 10, 2022