By Kim Walter
The United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley is partnering with AARP Virginia to host a Home Fit Workshop on May 21.
The free event will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Lord Fairfax Community College's Corron Center to help seniors decide what type of home modifications are needed to stay in their home as they age.
Joe Shtulman, president of the local United Way, said this is the first event of its kind to be held in the area. The idea came after the organization got results from the recent senior needs study, which revealed that four out of 10 seniors in the area are concerned that they might not be able to afford assisted living.
Going hand-in-hand with that are findings from a recent AARP study, which notes that eight out of every 10 people age 45 and older want to remain in their homes and communities for as long as possible.
Shtulman said that Brent DeRobertis, who has been giving similar presentations for a number of years, will lead the workshop and touch on a number of associated topics.
"Hopefully participants will leave having some ideas for things they can install on their own to make their home a safer place, like non-slip rugs, grab bars and wheelchair ramps," Shtulman said. "We'll also talk about how some home renovations qualify as a tax credit."
Since part of the local concern revolves around having the funds to pay for senior living, a portion of the workshop will focus on community resources and state-based groups that can be helpful.
According to the senior needs survey, local residents also worry about being along in their home and falling.
"We're going to talk about what types of things can help with that part of safety, too," Shtulman added. "Our seniors need to know that if something happens to them while they're alone, someone will hear them or check in on them."
Shtulman said the event could be beneficial to friends and family as well, since some have seniors in their homes. He said things can be installed that don't require major renovation but can make a big difference.
One such item is a non-slip rug. Shtulman will be handing them out to participants at the event.
"It's something simple that can prevent major injuries," he said.
The 65 and older age group is the fastest growing demographic in the region, Shtulman added, which is another reason why workshops like this are necessary.
"I think most people know the baby boomer population is large, but the 85 and over group is an even faster growing component," he said. "People are living longer, staying healthier and are maybe having needs that we haven't thought of before, like retro-fitting homes."
He said like anyone else, seniors want to stay in their homes, and he's sure family members also want their loved ones to be independent and safe at the same time.
Bigger home improvements, including construction projects like widening hallways and doorways, also will be covered.
The event is free and refreshments will be provided, but Shtulman asks that interested individuals call or email the United Way to register. To contact the organization, call 540-536-1610 or email email@example.com.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org