Slowed by arthritis and worsening foot and ankle problems, Gary Blankenburg, 73, is becoming less mobile as he ages.

As stairs grew more difficult, he and his wife Jo, 55, considered selling their two-story Sparks house built in 1922. But years of hunting failed to yield a housing option they loved as much as the three-bedroom home where they had lived for 24 years.Ads by Teads

While many older homeowners often downsize to a place more suited to seniors, more and more retirees are staying in their lifelong homes, thanks to smart planning and key upgrades.

A few months ago, the Blankenburgs contacted Brian Brock and Jerry Maenner of Federal Home Solutions, with offices in Timonium and Westminster. The company is one of many in Maryland that specialize in modifying homes so people can stay as long as possible as they age.

For the Blankenburgs, the main change was creating a small bedroom and full bathroom on the first floor so Gary doesn’t have to navigate the stairs. The bathroom has a shower stall with no edge, so a wheelchair can be rolled in. Gary doesn’t use a wheelchair yet, but they’re planning for the future.[Most read] Maryland reports 477 new coronavirus cases, 3 new deaths »

“One of the goals for me was not to make it very institutional-looking,” Jo says. “As much as possible, I wanted to fit with the flavor of the house.”Ads by Teads

As “aging in place” gains popularity, more homeowners are working toward the same goal.

The couple are also planning to build a deck in the back so Gary can get outside easily for fresh air and “to smoke his nasty cigars,” says Jo, without worrying about the two steps in the front of the house.

“It’s really not about the grab bars and stair rails,” says Stephen Hage, owner of Strategies for Independent Living, a Takoma Park-based home contractor that specializes in aging. “What the family needs is some way of continuing on the best they can with their life.”

Though every house is different, and each occupant ages in his or her own way, here are a eight ideas to consider.[Most read] Utilities can send shutoff notices to Maryland homes starting this week. But help is available. »

Do your research

Start by finding a contractor with Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (or CAPS) training from the National Association of Home Builders. Talk to several. Invite those you like for an in-home consultation.

“I strongly believe that having the client, primary caregiver and health care professional meet in the home with the contractor is beneficial, especially for people with progressive illnesses or those that may occur after an injury,” says Brian Brock, owner of Federal Home Solutions, a CAPS contractor with locations in Timonium and Westminster.

Be wary of products that do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, such as grab bars affixed with suction cups, says Bruce Cornwell, who owns…

This article was sourced from the Baltimore Sun.

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