Modifying your home for a lifetime

Posted: Sunday, July 05, 2009

The program on home modifications held as part of Juneau's Home Show on Feb. 28 was such a success that a repeat event is being planned.

On July 11, Home Modifications for a Lifetime will take place from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall in Juneau. The event, sponsored by AARP Juneau Community Council, Southeast Alaska Independent Living and Southeast Senior Services, is free, and people of all ages and abilities are invited.

Whether you are 45 or 85 years old, it is never too soon to begin making your home more safe and accessible to last a lifetime. Changes to the home range from simple and inexpensive solutions you can do yourself to costly remodels of the kitchen, bathroom or even installing an elevator which would require a building contractor. Aging-In-Place Specialists can provide a free evaluation "walk through" of your home to give some ideas on how it might become more "liveable" as you or your family members age.

The home modifications program on Saturday will feature a panel of experts facilitated by Doug Fanyak, Aging and Disability Resource Center Coordinator for SAIL. The panelists will inform home owners and renters about ways to make their homes safer and more accessible. Financial and medical resources, construction and accessibility considerations will be addressed, and low-cost, easy changes one can make to his or her home right now will be reviewed. Time will be allotted to answer questions from the audience.

Sara Boesser, retired chief building inspector for the city of Juneau, will discuss universal design and the use of building codes when remodeling to "Age in Place." An occupational or physical therapist will speak from the medical perspective, including adaptive devices for home use and what devices are best for one's unique set of needs.

I will give an overview of resources available to help pay for home modifications. Sara Boesser and Linni Esther, Accessibility & Aging-In-Place specialists for SAIL, will discuss SAIL's free HomeMAP surveys that provide homeowners and renters with a list of home tune-ups they might wish to make that meet their specific Aging-In-Place needs.

Bob Tamone, Certified Aging-In-Place specialist of Tamone Construction, will talk about planning your home for the future and share photos of home remodeling examples.

After the panel presentation, the experts in the field of universal design and home modifications will be on hand to answer questions privately, and devices will be displayed to give those present some ideas for what kinds of changes they might implement themselves. Brochures and resource information will also be available for the taking.

"Our goal is to help people continue to live in their homes for a longer period of time," said Liz Lucas, of the AARP Juneau Community Council .

The greatest risk to being able to stay in your own home is falling-but falls due to such things as poor lighting, losing one's balance getting out of the tub, or tripping on rugs can be easily prevented.

Don't delay; visit to find 10 simple changes you can make to your home today or call SAIL at 586-4920 for a free home assessment.

• Marianne Mills is program director of Southeast Senior Services, which offers home and community based services for older Alaskans throughout the Southeast region. SESS is a part of Catholic Community Service and assists all persons regardless of their faith.

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