Helping Seniors to Age in Place – Residential Renovations

Grabbing the grab bar for stability
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As our friends and colleagues began moving to various places – downsizing to a condo, moving to a retirement community, moving in with children and so on, my husband and I carefully considered various options.  We visited a variety of  retirement communities and decided that we preferred to “age in place” if we could work that out.  We like our house and our neighborhood, and our neighbors.  However, as physical limits become a reality, we find there are modifications that are needed.

The National Institute on Aging (NIH) provides very helpful information.

When my husband returned home from a recent hospitalization, there was a request that an Occupational Therapist assess our house to determine modifications needed as safety measures.  Although two grab bars have been in place for years, we were told that adding two vertical grab bars to help getting into a shower and four grab bars in place of towel racks would make our home much safer.

Vertical bar was added

What the Occupational therapist was not able to tell me was where to obtain the grab bars or who I could contact to install them.

My search for grab bars revealed that they mostly are available online and that there are all kinds of sizes and shapes and various materials.  Because I was trying to replace existing towel bars, the job was more complicated that just installing grab bars into a clear space.  And this is why I was hoping to find an experienced person who could do the installation.

Mark Cohn checking things out

I asked our plumber about installation and he was not interested in installing the grab bars.  I looked online and found someone across the country who specializes in grab bar installations but no one who was local.  Luckily, a friend who I thought might have had grab bars installed pulled Mark Cohn’s name from a very old list she had of people who had helped her.

I was pleased that Mark was still available and also relieved that he was available soon after I contacted him and he installed the grab bars in the shower to supplement previously installed bars.  These have been extremely helpful.

Removing the old towel bar to make room for the grab bar

I was waiting for the delivery of the bars that would replace the towel racks so Mark began measuring but needed to return for the actual installation. The towel rack removal was surprisingly difficult. Despite this, Mark’s experience resulted in the final job being very satisfactory.

Carefully wrapped grab bar is installed

I was intrigued that Mark had been doing the important work related to “aging in place” for so long.  I was curious about how this all began and  Mark generously shared his story.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I have been a North Shore resident for the past 25 years. I founded my company, Residential Renovations about 15 years ago.

Why did you begin installing grab bars?  When did you begin doing this?

I recognized that aging in place, home modifications, is a growth opportunity & an under served market. My work allows individuals to live independently at home for a longer length of time and defer assisted living. 

Preparing to install two new grab bars

Do you offer other modifications in regard to physical limits?

I install grab bars, staircase railings, wheelchair ramps in addition to home repair services.

New grab bars going into their new home

What are the largest and smallest jobs that you have done?

My projects do not have a size requirement.

Viola!

What is the best way to contact you?

My contact info:

Mobile telephone: 847 828-9738

Office telephone : 847 607-8027

Email: [email protected]

Photos: B. Keer

Suggestions from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a): “The Eldercare Locator’s brochure on home modifications provides older adults and caregivers with the information they need to connect to local agencies that can provide support with identifying and making modifications to their homes. In addition to its website, eldercare.acl.gov, the Eldercare Locator operates a Call Center (1-800-677-1116) that connects older adults and caregivers to local resources that are available in their communities.

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