You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, May 25, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

How to live in the comfort of your own home - remodel a home for 'aging in place'

By Keith A. Paul


Photo by: Nick Paul

Hi Keith,
I’ve read your past articles regarding aging in place, and I agree, I’m not ready to move into an assisted living facility. I can live in my home independently but need a few home modifications. As I get older, I’m having a more difficult time getting around my home. I’m on a fixed budget so… what do you recommend in order for me to stay in my home as long as I possibly can or until I grow up?

—Esther M., Ypsilanti


As I continue to watch the trends in the remodeling market, I assure you that you are not alone. The good news is that, because of the trend, there are many more options for you than there were just five or 10 years ago.

May is "Older Americans Month," a perfect opportunity to show our appreciation for the older adults in our community. Since 1963, across the United States, many communities have joined in the annual commemoration of this event — a proud tradition that shows our commitment to celebrating the contributions and achievements of older Americans. In my opinion, the greatest generation that’s ever lived!

In fact, the theme for Older Americans Month 2012 is Never Too Old to Play!

Home improvement manufacturing companies are focusing on helping older Americans in your situation, commonly known as Universal Design. According to the AARP, 74 percent of older homeowners prefer to age in place.

In fact, there is a reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the landmark law that supports Meals on Wheels and other in-home programs for seniors. Originally enacted in 1965, the Older American Act was the first initiative by the federal government to help seniors remain independent in their homes and communities.

There are many adaptations and modifications that can help anyone in your condition stay in the home of your choice,

  • Add grab bars and or railings at key spots throughout your home
  • Modify door handles and faucets for easier grip
  • Modify kitchen cabinet hardware
  • Transition ramps or entrance ramps to eliminate trip hazards at entry ways
  • Bathing solutions, including barrier free showers and walk-in tubs
  • And more

According to Jennifer Todd, senior program developer for Pittsfield Senior Center, “One of the best resources to help seniors is the 2011 Senior Resource Directory for Washtenaw County. You can find resources for legal, transportation, Housing Bureau for Seniors, etc. You can download a copy and then go to the bottom of the page and click on Resources and Links or call 734-822-2117."

Also, many other resources will be available at their Spring Checkout at the Pittsfield Township Senior Center on Wednesday 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, May 30. Call Jennifer for more details 734-822-2117.

Other resources to help you:

Center for Independent Living is also a great resource

Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program Website: Contact Email: Information phone: 517-886-1029. National toll free phone: 800-803-7174. Description: This program provides free health benefit counseling services to those aged 65 and older, those who are Medicare beneficiaries due to disability, and their families.

Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors Information phone: 517-372-5959. Description: Provides free legal advice for MI residents 60+;.

Area Agency on Aging 1-B (AAA 1-B) Address: 29100 Northwestern Highway, Suite 400 Southfield. Contact email : I& Information phone: 800-852-7795. Description: Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP). Trained counselors provide information and counseling on Medicare and Medicaid issues and assist with evaluating supplemental and long term care insurance policies.
Special notes: Serves older adults, persons with disabilities and their caregivers in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Washtenaw Counties.

The National Aging Information and Referral Support Center The Center offers training, technical assistance, product development and consultation to the aging network.

For additional Funding sources contact your local Veterans Administration, Medicaid, or Contact the National Council on Independent Living Center

If any readers know of or have used any other sources, do not hesitate to comment as there are more in need than sources available.

Before having any home modifications completed, visit National Association of Home Builders at and search for Certified Aging in Place Specialists who are trained in Universal Design to help you live in your home. They have been trained to update your home as you age. Keep in mind you do not have to have your home completely remodeled now. You should have a current, one-year, two-year, five-year, 10-year and 20-year plan.

Listen to Keith speak at the Spring Check Up at the Pittsfield Township Senior Center May 30.

Keith Paul is a State of Michigan Licensed Builder and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Paul serves as President and founding member of Nationally franchised HandyPro Handyman Service, servicing Washtenaw, Wayne and Oakland Counties. Email questions or comments to