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Before You Rehab a Home for a Senior With a Disability, Think of These Scenarios and Commonsense Tips

During the past several months, several of my clients considered taking their loved one home rather than placing him/her in a long-term care community. After reviewing the costs of stair lifts ($2,500 to $16,000) and refurbished bathrooms, all of them opted to place the loved one in a community. That is because the loved ones would have required a 24-hour caregiver at a cost of at least $250 per day.

In contrast to these scenarios, my father-in-law had a stroke at age 85. After a stint in a nursing home, first with rehabilitation, then a short period as a nursing home resident, the family decided to renovate their father’s house for Disability access. I am going to share my sister-in-law’s thoughts as she recalls the situation:

As we saw in the months and year-or-more after Dad’s stroke, senior care giving is a continual learning process. My brother and I still sort of laugh (although it’s not really a laugh) about how Donovans put 50K into renovating the house for Disability access, but no one thought of certain details until those details hit us in the face.

Like, why pay for the rehabbers to install a special bench in the shower, when we ended up using a shower chair from the local pharmacy, because the nurse aide needed to be able to assist Dad as well, and the chair could be placed closer to the shower nozzles/handles.

Also, the bathroom rehab was beautiful, and designed to make the bathroom wheelchair accessible. Which it was, and is. But not until the first day of Dad using it did anyone think about TILTING the mirror over the sink, so it would be appropriately angled for someone sitting in a wheel chair, and not flat against the wall for tall folks who can stand over the sink.

The rehab was expensive but enabled Dad to come home, where he wanted to be and where he fared better. All told, it cost less for him and our family than the nursing home. But that is our experience, and each unique family situation must be assessed individually.

Here are some key lessons the family learned:

1. If you are rehabbing for someone in a wheelchair, then talk to someone who has been in the same situation. And if you cannot do that, then go around your own house while sitting in a desk chair that rolls. Think about doors, handles, things you can reach, things you can not… Mirrors, rugs, etc.

2. You get what you pay for. Thank goodness we had a very high quality company to work on the house. Better to get good rehab now, then pay for umpteen repairs for shoddy labor later.

3. Lift chairs, etc., are great, but think about the pros and cons. Does the senior need the assistance device EVERY time? Or is a bit of a “work out” on a regular chair a good thing now and then? It is one thing to own a Lazy-Boy chair, it’s another thing to BECOME a Lazy-Boy before one’s time!

ADSLA can assist you and your family with thinking outside the box. We can also connect you with other professionals who consult with people on these sorts of decisions. My sister-in-law mentioned having a quality company help do the family home renovations. That’s a good reminder that it never hurts to have an expert do a consultation that determines the senior’s needs and the costs.
For all of your senior living needs, contact Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors. Call us at (708) 415-2934 or email us. Please visit our website. Please watch my video to learn how the process works and learn what some clients have to say.