AGING IN PLACE

When you are healthy and active the decision to stay at home and age in place can be an option.  The desire to grow old around family and friends in completely understandable and you can incorporate assistance as needed.  First evaluate whether your home is appropriate in size and stories, are hallways and bathroom able to accommodate a walker or wheelchair in the future if needed.  Can you easily get in and out of shower?  If your home is large and getting from one room to another is a good distance you may consider downsizing your home.  It’s not uncommon to sell your home and purchase a smaller single story home or villa. This is a good time to bring in a transition company like Silver Roots that can assist you from the beginning to the end of the transition with services such as: selling home, buying home, downsizing, purging and coordinating of a moving sale and the moving company. 

Once you have an appropriate home for aging in place. You can now take steps to modify and make its functionality appropriate for aging in place, such as installing ramps, handrails and de-cluttering.  Modifications to a home aren’t always affordable so I have listed a few resources that provide financial assistance.

Veteran benefits: If your parent is a veteran with a disability, the VA provides grants like the SAH, SHA and HISA grants that will help pay for home modifications.  The V.A. has three main programs to provide home-modification grants to veterans with certain severe service-connected disabilities.

Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants. An SAH grant is intended to help modify a home to make it wheelchair accessible or otherwise "barrier free" for certain veterans whose service-connected disabilities make it impossible for them to live independently without such modifications. 

An SAH grant is available to veterans who receive V.A. service-connected disability compensation for permanent and total disability due to:

·    Loss or loss of use of both legs to the extent that the veteran cannot walk or otherwise get around independently without braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair.

·    Loss or loss of use of one leg together with another disability that affects balance or the ability to walk or otherwise get around without braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair.

·    Blindness in eyes, plus loss or loss of use of one leg.

·    Loss or loss of use of both arms.

Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grants. An SHA grant helps pay to modify a home to meet the needs of a veteran with a certain type and level of disability and who needs assistance with safe mobility around the house. 

Note: This SHA grant may be available to a veteran who is or will be temporarily residing in a home owned by a family member, for modifications to that home.

An SHA grant may be available to a veteran with disability compensation for permanent and total service-connected disability, including:

·    Blindness in both eyes (5/200 visual acuity or less).

·    Loss or loss of use of both hands or of arms below the elbow.

Home Improvement and Structural Alteration (HISA) grants. A HISA grant provides funds for home improvements necessary for a disabled veteran to have access around the house and to essential lavatory and sanitary facilities. A HISA grant is available to a veteran who has received a medical determination by the V.A. that alterations to the home are necessary or appropriate for the effective treatment of the disability or for access. A veteran may receive both a HISA grant and either an SHA or SAH grant. The rules for HISA grants -- what they cover and what they don't -- are complicated and require participation by the person or company that will be doing the home alterations.

Note: A HISA grant is available to a disabled veteran even if the disability isn't service-connected.

You apply for an SAH or SHA grant by filling out V.A. Form 26-4555 and submitting it to a V.A. regional office.

You apply for a HISA grant by filling out an Application for Assistance and submitting it to a local V.A. medical center.

Another possibility that's available to veterans enrolled in the Medical Benefits Package is Veterans-Directed Home and Community Based Services. This program provides veterans who need help with daily living activities with financial assistance to help them remain living in their homes, and provides them with a certain amount of discretion to use those funds.

Medicaid waivers: If your parent is low-income and eligible for Medicaid, most states have Medicaid Home and Community Based Services waivers that provide financial assistance to help seniors avoid nursing homes and remain living at home. Many of the waivers pay for home modifications to increase a person's ability to live independently. Each state has different waivers with different eligibility requirements and benefits. Contact your Medicaid office for more information.

State and local programs: Some states and local governments have financial assistance programs, often called "nursing home diversion programs," or "deferred payment loans" that are not funded by Medicaid. These programs, which may include grants or loans or a combination, helps pay for modifications that enable low to moderate income elderly and disabled to remain living at home. Modifications covered typically include accessibility improvements like wheelchair ramps, handrails and grab bars. And some may be used for home improvements like roofing, heating and cooling, insulation, weather-stripping and storm windows.

To find out if there's a program in your parent's area, contact the city or county housing authority, the local Area Aging Agency (call 800-677-1116 for contact information) or the state housing finance agency.