Last week we discussed three ways to pay for home projects that help us and our families live at home safely and independently. Apparently, that article left you hungry for more information! So this week, I wanted to follow up with EVEN MORE financial resources for your consideration!
Let's do a quick recap on the who, what, and why it's important to invest in home projects, such as home modification or remodeling. We all want to live in our homes as long as we possibly can. (I have never EVER met anyone who said they wanted to live in a nursing home!) Despite us wanting to live in our homes forever, over 90% of housing in the U.S. is NOT set up for us to safely age in in place! That means every person in the U.S. needs to start investing in home modifications that will allow us to remain independent caring for ourselves, OR we will ALL end up spending more money on things we hate, like medical bills and rehab.
So you may ask, "Maria, how can I afford to pay for home modifications?" Great question! Here are six solutions for you (To see a more comprehensive financial resource list, click here.):
1) If you are a home owner, renter, or landlord with a low to moderate income, listen up! You can request home repairs or simple modifications through your area agency on aging, which is financed by the Housing and Urban Development HOME Program and Community Development Block Grants. In Kansas City, MO, you can click here to request help to fix repairs and install accessible features, like grab bars in the bathroom.
2) Don't worry Missouri farmers and ranchers! I'm thinking about you too! The United States Department of Agriculture and Rural Development offer loan programs for low to moderate income home owners and landlords to buy, build, rehab, or improve a house! It is worthwhile to consider these low interest loans for home improvements that allow you to age in place. Before your family talks you into moving to the city for retirement, look into this type of loan for home modifications to stay safe and independent on your land!
3) Go to your local bank or credit union and ask about the loans they provide that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Let's say you take out a loan that is FHA insured and something terrible happens where you are unable to repay the loan. Not to worry! FHA will reimburse your bank the amount of the loan balance. Since the bank is guaranteed a loan payoff, they are often willing to lower loan requirements for the income and credit score. These types of fixed or variable rate loans are great for low to moderate income homeowners and landlords to make homes accessible for people to live for a lifetime!
4) Do you care for children 18 years and younger with developmental disabilities? Do they feel heavier and heavier every time you pick them up to feed/dress/bathe/toilet them? It's time for some home modifications to protect your back and the health of your child! Check out the Missouri Medicaid waiver that pays for home environmental modifications to make it safer and easier for you to help your kiddo! This waiver is available to both homeowners or renters across the state!
5) If you have trouble getting in and out of your home, take a look at the Missouri Residential Dwelling Accessibility Tax Credit. This tax credit is for people with disabilities who have an income of $30,000 or less a year. You can be credited up to $2,500 for modifying your entryway (i.e. garage, front door, back door, side door) to make it easier to enter and exit your home. Personally, I love being reimbursed by the government for doing something good for my home and my physical health! No more worrying about accidental injuries when getting in and out of the house!
6) Veterans! You have sacrificed your time and lives for our country's independence! Now, it's time for you homeowners or renters to maintain your independence in the community! Go to this link to apply for housing grants to adapt your home! You deserve to live in a home that is set up for you to complete your daily activities. Also, click here to learn more about the Home Improvement and Structural Alterations Grant for veterans that focuses on home modifications specifically for bathrooms, entryways, and kitchens. In my humble opinion, those are the top three places in your home that you should address first!
The time for home modifications is now! I don't care how old you are! I'm looking at you all in your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, or above! I don't care if you can still walk or drive at night! I don't even care if you think you can rely on your kids in your golden years! People of all ages need to make changes in the home now to live at home for a lifetime. All it takes is one project at a time, folks.
After you find out which financial resources above will work for you, call an occupational therapist, like me, to guide you in creating home modifications custom made for you. Occupational therapists understand that people have different wants and needs in their home. We love working with people to tailor their home environment just for them! In fact, check out the research showing that occupational therapists are the most effective at home modification recommendations!
Lastly, I know that you know people who could benefit from this information. Share this article with every veteran, grandparent, parent, farmer, neighbor you know! Click on the links above and learn more about these grants, waivers, and loans for Missouri residents! Consider this: if you clicked on one link a day, you would be finished in one week. Take notes on which financial resources will and won't work for you to stay organized. If anything, remember that you better do it before you need it!
This past couple of weeks, I have worked with two clients with chronic back pain and osteoarthritis. These types of conditions can make it hard to twist and bend to thoroughly clean yourself after going to the bathroom.
Whoa! I know that is extremely personal! But it can be devastating and life altering to not be able to clean your private areas. So what did I do for my clients?
I showed different types of bidets! Bidets clean your private parts with a soft stream of water after you toilet.
Personally, I did not know bidets existed until I was in my late twenties. I have seen a bidet in a bathroom in Europe, but I have never seen one in the U.S. Side note: I was too scared to use the bidet in Europe even though I knew what it was. I would definitely use a bidet now! It’s on my to-do list for our future home remodel.
Toilet manufacturers reported an increase in sales in bidets and bidet seats in America. It’s not hard to see why. The benefits include being more gently effective with personal hygiene compared to the skin irritation that can come with toilet paper or wet wipes. Bidets also cut down on use of toilet paper.
Save the trees and save the butts!
My clients needed their backs saved as well. So I suggested a bidet seat or a hand held bidet. I would not install a separate bidet in a bathroom because that would take up too much space. Plus, try to squat on a bidet when your back is killing you!
You can find electric or non electric bidet seats to install on your existing toilet. The electric bidet seats are kind of fancier in that some brands offer the option to blow warm air on your bottom. Many bidet seats have controls that allow you to change water temperature and to aim the water stream where it needs to go.
Hand held bidets are typically less expensive. You can hook them on the toilet tank or on the wall next to the toilet if it’s within reach. If you have a hard time moving your shoulders and arms back because of arthritis and pain, this may not be the best option for you.
The hand held bidets can have multiple functions besides personal hygiene like: cleaning the floor, cleaning a bathtub/shower, cleaning a cotton diaper, filling a bucket, watering bathroom plants, filling water balloons. . . The list is endless. Get creative, people!
I hope you think or rethink thoughts on bidets! Your private areas will thank you. The trees will thank you. You will thank yourself for maintaining your independence!
Do you have a couple of family members who cannot visit your house because it’s hard for them to climb stairs?
Do you accidentally strain yourself at home while carrying things through narrow doorways and stairs?
Have you or a family member broken a bone and were forced to completely change where you sleep, bathe, and toilet in the house?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you suffer from “Visitability Disorder”. (Gasp!)
Goodness! What is that?
It is the inability for people of all ages and abilities to visit your home. It is a terrible affliction that affects more than 90% of current housing in the U.S. (Journal of the American Planning Association).
I will confess to you all today that I too have “Visitability Disorder”. (Sobs into a handkerchief.) I feel your pain.
However, I have great news! There is a cure for “Visitability Disorder”! Visitability.org outlines what builders can do with new construction using three very important and INEXPENSIVE tactics:
1) Make one entry into the house a zero-step entrance. It can be the front door, side door, back door, from the garage, secret entryway, etc. Just choose one entry with no steps whatsoever! Bonus tip: you can add a zero-step entrance whether your house has a basement or not!
2) Build all doorways and hallways 32 inches wide or greater. This will eliminate the funny bone pain you get after slamming your elbow into the door frame while carrying groceries or a baby carrier inside the house.