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Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Attitudes and Plans for Low-Income Elderly Homeowners to Age in Place
Author Affiliations
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Nova Southeastern University
Article Information
Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Home Accessibility/Environmental Modification / Assessment/Measurement
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Attitudes and Plans for Low-Income Elderly Homeowners to Age in Place
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011500074. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO7023
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011500074. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO7023
Abstract

Date Presented 4/9/2016

Occupational therapists involved in discharge planning need to consider the home context for necessary resources, equipment, or home modifications in their recommendations. Lack of aging-in-place resources could potentially increase fall risk, resulting in further medical complications and higher health care costs.

Primary Author and Speaker: Mary Peterson

Additional Authors and Speakers: Pramay Pandya, Sarah Goodman, Max Ito, Christopher Sobota

Contributing Authors: Olivia Goubeaux, Mary Peterson

The purpose of our study was to explore and describe the attitudes and plans for low-income elderly homeowners to age in place, along with their current health and abilities, mobility status, and safety of the home.
Research on low-income older adults and the contextual barriers for them to safely age in place are lacking; therefore, our study attempted to understand the effects of aging on the low-income participants within their home’s physical environment.
This was a descriptive study using a structured interview (questionnaire developed for this study), balance and ambulation tests for client factor information, and a room-by-room home safety evaluation (Rebuilding Together Home Safety evaluation).
Participants who volunteered were scheduled to be interviewed and have their home evaluated for safety and repairs. There were 8 participants, ranging in age from 56 to 86 yr; 50% used ambulatory aids, and 3 of 8 had a history of falling.
A consent form was signed during the home visit, if they agreed to participate in the study. A researcher conducted a structured interview about their abilities and limitations, health conditions, mobility status, and safety at home, and we performed the Get Up and Go Test and Coin Pick Up Test to assess their balance and mobility. A home safety evaluation was conducted after the interview and tests.
Descriptive data analyses (frequencies, percentage, mean, standard deviation) were conducted on data retrieved from the structured interviews. SPSS Version 22 was used to manage data and conduct the analyses.
Participants reported varying functional abilities. Most of our participants reported independence in certain home instrumental activities of daily living such as paying bills, cleaning their house, doing laundry, yard maintenance, and taking the garbage out. About 50% reported they have not fallen, although 50% reported they currently use an mobility aid for functional ambulation. One hundred percent of participants reported a desire to stay in their own home but did not currently possess the funds to do any home modification. The homes generally were in need of some level of repair (typical of Rebuilding Together clients), and those with mobility impairments could use modifications that ranged from grab bars to wheelchair ramps.
According to AARP’s Older Americans in Poverty: A Snapshot, nearly 1 in 10 older adults (age 65 and older) live in poverty. Every study participant had the desire to age in place, and most participants described community support or resources to help them age in place, but they did not have the ability to make necessary home modifications.
This study provides some exploratory information about poorer older adults and their ability to age in place. Further research is warranted to understand the specific aging-in-place needs of this population and to identify resources (funds, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, etc.) to assist them. Implications of this study include increased fall risk by living in an unsafe home due to impairments and possible early placement in institutional care. Limited income negatively affects the ability of poorer older adults to continue living in a livable home or a home that has been equipped or modified to accommodate their mobility and sensory loss needs.
Occupational therapists making discharge planning recommendations need to consider the home context for necessary resources, equipment, or home modifications. Lack of aging-in-place resources could potentially increase fall risk, resulting in further medical complications, placements, and higher health care costs