A new bill could help seniors remain at home safely by providing tax credits to enhance access in the home. This bill could maintain autonomy for those over 60 with mobility issues.
One of the barriers facing seniors that choose to stay in their own homes is accessibility, particularly pertinent when those living there suffer a physical disability or mobility issue. Getting around the home safely, using the bathroom, and accessing the outside can become challenging, if not impossible. An exciting new bill has been introduced which equates to a tax credit for senior citizens to modify their residences and implement mobility solutions to increase access. This has the long-term potential of enhancing their ability to remain living safely, independently, and comfortably in these residences.
The Senior Accessible Housing Act
The Senior Accessible Housing Act was introduced to the House of Representatives in March 2017 by Florida Democratic Representative Charlie Crist, and proposes up to $30,000 tax credit to support seniors, over the age of 60, that may be struggling to remain in their own homes. This tax credit is given for these older homeowners to make needed modifications that increase accessibility, safety, and autonomy. This credit extends to any modifications made up to $30,000 that the senior may incur over the course of their lifetime.
Some things that would be covered by this non-refundable, personal tax credit include:
Entrance and exit ramps
Thresholds may seem easy-enough to navigate, but anything over a half-inch could prove to be a barrier to anyone using a wheelchair or scooter. Installing entrance and exit ramps to create a smooth transition from one room or area of the home to another could significantly impact access for those using mobility aids.
Another important prospect that would be covered under this bill is the widening of doorways to the home. It is estimated that a standard wheelchair requires a door width of around 32”, while most doorways are only around 27”-wide. It is further recommended that businesses and public places provide handicap access of 36” and wider for their doorways. Widening the doorways around the home prevents accident, incident, and even injury as chairs or scooters could become stuck.
Handrails and grab bars
Around one-quarter of American seniors (over age 65) fall or take a nasty-spill each year, according to the National Council on Aging. In fact, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries sustained by the older population. The installation of handrails or grab bars can significantly decrease this number and perhaps preserve autonomy and health for seniors living in their own home.
Non-slip flooring surfaces
Take a closer look at the floor: what kind of flooring does your home have? The installation of non-slip flooring is another feature that can impact accessibility and that is covered under the proposed bill. It has been established that the risk of a fall is a major hazard to seniors, so creating safer surfaces is money well-spent.
Additional accessibility actions
While this bill has only been proposed, it holds exciting potential for other modifications that could make the home safer and more accessible. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will compile the list of modifications that can enhance the ability of the individuals to remain living safely, independently, and comfortably in their residences, including predetermined mobility aids. Make sure to consult with the IRS list and guidelines before planning on making refurbishments and upgrades, as there could be caveats that command professional installation to be credited under this new legislation.
Some of these predetermined accessibility features that could be covered under this proposed bill include:
- Stair-lifts. Stair-lifts have come a long way over the years; homes are being seen with lifts both inside and outside, providing fuller-access to all your property. Contemporary stair-lifts are cohesive with your décor and are not as bulky as past models.
- Shower and ceiling lifts. Getting in and out of the shower is a true challenge for some with physical disabilities; shower and ceiling lifts make this transport much safer for both the individual and their caregiver.
- Porch-lifts. Porch-lifts look like mechanical pads that enable a chair, scooter, or walker to raise and lower without effort. This can open-up outdoor areas like the porch, patio, or pool to someone with mobility issues.
- Electronic door openers. Electronic door openers prevent the struggle and hazard of attempting to open entryways while in a chair, riding a scooter, or using a walker. Some utilize motion-sensors while others may offer voice commands.
This new bill could help seniors remain at home safely
This bill has exciting prospects that extend to each and every citizen, widely. Call, write and reach out to your local legislators and representatives to let them know that this tax credit for accessibility and mobility aids is worth endorsing to preserve the autonomy of the aged population. Encourage your representatives to make your voice heard, and to support the passage of this bill, the Senior Accessible Housing Act. Fostering the independence and autonomy of seniors is critical, and can contribute to overall quality of life for the aging population- which impacts us all in one way or another.
Talk to the experts at Pacific Mobility to find the mobility solutions that make your home more accessible- and that preserve your freedom and independence. From stair-lifts to shower-buddies, your home can become more convenient, safe, and comfortable for anyone living with mobility issues or physical impairment. Work with the professionals for information, installation, and insights that can make your home a more accessible place to live.
President, Husband, Father, Grandfather Graduate of UC Davis- Bio Sci Major- Go Aggies! Jeff has extensive experience in all of Pacific Mobility’s products and services, and specializes in accessibility products as well as stairlifts, ceiling lifts and custom wheel chairs. His hobbies include spending time with family, gardening, mountain biking, exercising and off road motorcycle riding.
24 years as Owner/President of Pacific Mobility Center – selling, installing, and servicing stairlifts, porch lifts, ceiling lifts, pool lifts, handicap ramping, specialty wheelchairs, scooters, power wheel chairs, and other power mobility devices
Certified Environmental Access Consultant since 2008
Licensed General Contractor since 1998
Certified Aging in Place Specialist since 2016
Board Member for Home Access Professionals
Member of Association of Members of the Accessibility Equipment Industry (AEMA)