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My Aging Parent is Moving In - Do I Need a Disability Planner?


Our parents spend a good chunk of their lives taking care of us and making sure we’re safe. Then, at some point, the tables turn and they rely on us.

As people are living longer and nursing homes become increasingly unaffordable, more Americans are taking in their elderly parents. According to the National Family Caregivers Association, one in five Americans assumes care of an aging parent, either in their homes or by paying for the care. That works out to approximately 10 million U.S. adults age 50 and older who are caring for aging parents now.

Moving a parent in can be overwhelming. There are many things to consider, from managing the extra costs to making your home safe. For the latter, hiring a professional disability planner can help ease the burden, making sure your home is accessible and comfortable for parents with mobility issues or disabilities.

What Does a Disability Home Planner Do?

Despite the name, your aging parent doesn’t have to be disabled, in the technical sense, to benefit from the services of a home disability planner. Professional disability planners are trained to adapt the home to the needs of senior citizens, too. They can identify tripping hazards, recommend safety modifications, help you improve the layout of furniture and much more. You might think these are tasks you can handle on your own, but disability planners are trained to spot hazards that aren’t obvious.

When you meet with a disability planner, they will do a detailed walk-through of your home to identify all hazards and accessibility issues. They might point out some problems initially, but any reputable planner will later issue a full report on all problems they’ve spotted, along with recommendations for addressing them. A good disability planner should also seek your input on what could be improved and meet with the aging parent to learn more about his or her physical limitations.

In all likelihood, you’ll be able to handle many of the recommended improvements yourself, and inexpensively. These include things like rearranging furniture for wider walkways, moving cords and other trip hazards and installing grab bars in the bathrooms. However, in some cases -- particularly if your parent uses a wheelchair or has a serious disability -- there are jobs that require the use of a contractor. These include things like building ramps, widening doors and lowering countertops. The planner might recommend a trusted contractor who specializes is accessibility, but don’t feel obligated to choose that contractor.

How Much Will a Disability Planner Charge?

A complete walk-through and report usually costs in the range of $300 to $500. Some planners charge by the hour, while others have a flat fee. Before you hire a disability planner, always find out how the pricing is structured. You don’t want to be surprised by a bill that is larger than you expected.

If your home needs significant improvements to make it accessible for a disabled parent, you’re likely looking at thousands of dollars in construction costs, in addition to the cost of the planner. If you need financial assistance, look in to programs that are offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or local nonprofits that serve people with disabilities.

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