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Elderdesign: Home modifications for enhanced safety and self-care

Paying for Home Modifications and Technology.

Reverse mortgages. Over 75% of older adults own their own homes (Scholen, 1995) and expanding government and private reverse mortgage programs have the potential to increase the financial resources of many elders who are "cash poor, house rich." The government, under the Housing Urban and Development (HUD) program, offers reverse mortgages that charge the lowest interest rate and are insured against bank failure.

No cost for income eligible. For adults who meet income eligibility requirements, many agencies offer home modifications, furnishings, minor repair services, and home safety audits, at no cost. Some agencies are funded to offer home modification grants or low interest loans. Call the local Area Agency on Aging to learn about programs. Other sources of funding for major renovations, are private national organizations such as Christmas in April, whose targeted audience is low income seniors with disabilities.

Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare pays for very limited "durable" medical equipment, including wheelchairs, walkers, canes and hospital beds, as long as the patient has a doctor's prescription. State-run Medicaid programs have more flexibility for funding assistive technology, as each state can interpret what is considered "rehabilitation and other services to help families and individuals attain or retain capability for independence or self-care" (Bowe, 1995).

The Triad Project. Every state, under a grant funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, funds regional assistive technology centers that can help identify programs and resources in local communities.

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New York-Presbyterian. The University Hospitals of Columbia and Cornell