Elderly & Disabilities: Preparing for Retirement

March 8, 2016 | 10:00 am | By Pants Up Easy

Ahh, the Golden Years. Sunbeams and fishing expeditions. Lazy days knitting on a porch swing. A curled up dog near a crackling fire on a cold winter’s day. A house full of laughter from grandchildren visiting for the holidays. These are the typical images one would have of retirement… {scratch goes the needle off the record}.

At a time in life when one should be able to reflect on fond memories and to bask in the glories of retirement, boomers with disabilities are especially met with obstacles, such as the:


• risk of losing their home

• threat of not being able to afford a safe and accessible home environment

• excessive personal healthcare costs

• loss of independence

Now more than ever, a person with a disability requires assistance in household modifications if they want to thrive and continue living independently in their own home. There are difficulties getting such assistance. Investing in home care solutions instead of going into long-term care facilities is key – but at what price? And how difficult is it to obtain that assistance?

  • First, consider the costs of a fall-related injury:
  • Each year, millions of people 65 and older are treated in emergency departments because of falls.
  • Fall injuries are among the 20 most expensive medical conditions.
  • The average hospital cost for a fall injury is $35,000; this cost increases with age.
  • Medicare pays for about 78% of the costs of falls.
  • Direct costs do not account for the long-term consequences of these injuries, such as: decreased productivity, lost time from work and household duties of the individual or care giver, or reduced quality of life [CDC Cost of Falls, 2013].

Rhonda Bonecutter, MEd/OT, CAPS, CEAC knows exactly the pain and frustration that elderly people with disabilities are confronted with everyday. Bonecutter is Founder and CEO of Zero Barriers Inc., located in the San Francisco Bay area. She frequently travels the US and internationally, attending trade-shows, interviewing vendors, and testing new assistive products.

In this article, find out how the recently launched ‘Safe at Home Program’ in Washington, DC provides home modifications to help those elderly individuals with disabilities remain safe while living in their homes. AARP and its Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE) in DC strongly pushed the District to help low-income seniors and people with these disabilities to obtain necessary funding for home modifications. AARP has also supported the passage of the Safe at Home bill.

This bill serves homeowners and renters and provides up to $10,000 in grants for seniors with disabilities. Seniors and individuals with disabilities can apply for Safe at Home services by calling (202) 638-0050 or emailing: safeathome@homecarepartners.org.


And then there is the amazing story of BraunAbility, a company that strives to grow mobility across the world. With a hunger for independence, BraunAbility founder Ralph Braun (who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at an early age) invented the world’s first electric scooter, called the Tri-Wheeler. From there, he designed the world’s first wheelchair lift and steering controls, allowing Ralph to drive himself independently for the first time in his life. Sadly, Braun passed away in 2012, but his company’s mission lives on. BraunAbility has listed a few helpful resources for those looking to obtain wheelchair grants and funds from charitable organizations 

With crusaders and organizations like the ones mentioned above who are fighting for the rights of those who need it the most (the elderly, wounded veterans, those with low-income, and others who don’t have the tools and resources to help them live their independent lives) – our world is a better place! 

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