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Senior Lifestyles

Safe at Home program helps seniors, others

4/3/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Volunteers work to install helpful modifications to an older homeowner’s home through the Safe at Home program offered through Rebuilding Together.
Photo courtesy of Rebuilding Together Greater Cuyahoga Valley
GREATER AKRON — Rebuilding Together Greater Cuyahoga Valley’s program to help senior homeowners make improvements in the name of safety has expanded and is now available to more area residents.

Safe at Home is a program that will provide safety upgrades, such as installing grab bars and railings, for Summit County residents and fully or partially fund the cost of making those improvements.

Paul Holm, executive director of Rebuilding Together Greater Cuyahoga Valley, said the program previously was offered to low-income homeowners, but today it’s available to all, with home repairs and modifications provided on a sliding scale.

“We had a number of people asking about the program, but [who] were not income eligible,” Holm said. “After talking to some local foundations about this fact, I thought we could do it on a sliding scale fee and still make it free for very low-income residents, so we can broaden the scope of it.”

The program is now sponsored by the Westfield Insurance Foundation and also is funded through support of the Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation and the Sisler McFawn Foundation.

“It’s a program I really hope will grow because the [older] population is growing so fast,” Holm said. “If you look at statistics on the risk of falls and people over 62 and what happens once they fall, it’s so preventable.”

Currently, residents participating in the program can get installation of grab bars, handrails, stair treads, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and security lights, Holm said. In addition, doorknobs also can be changed.

Rebuilding Together staff members or volunteer crews work on the projects, Holm said.

The program has been one of the agency’s most successful programs so far, with 250 senior citizens receiving help since 2005.

“It’s usually one of our higher rated programs,” Holm said. “Often the people we are serving have already fallen or they are crawling up and down stairs. Their mobility has changed. We often get feedback like, ‘Now I feel like I can stay in my home.’”

An evaluation of the program undertaken by the Center for Innovation and Growth at Baldwin Wallace University showed that seniors who participated had an increased sense of security and well being as a result of the program, Holm said.

Rebuilding Together is accepting applications from Summit County residents. To apply, call 330-773-4100 or go to www.rebuildingtogether-sc.org.

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