Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity Debuts Aging in Place Program for Senior Citizens

TOMS RIVER, N.J. – This winter, Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity kicked-off its Aging in Place program with a home repair project for a senior citizen couple in Toms River. Aging in Place is a new movement to not only enable people to age safely in their homes but also to create an environment where older adults can continue to learn and contribute, develop relationships with people of all ages, maintain a healthy lifestyle, live independently and receive healthcare and support services that are community-based. Northern Ocean Habitat’s first Aging in Place project was funded by a Toms River Community Development Block Grant.

After a recommendation from their Meridian Care Journey social worker, Stephen and Connie of Toms River reached out to Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity in hopes of finding assistance for home repairs. “My husband and I live in this home by ourselves,” shared Connie. “We have a hard time walking and cannot afford to make these repairs on our income.” Forty-seven years and four children later, Stephen and Connie’s home was in need of health and safety modifications.
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The couple’s main concern was the home’s only bathroom. “I was worried the tub would fall through the floor because it was rotting away,” said Connie. “The bathtub leaked and walls behind the shower tile were rotting, too.” Habitat’s team of staff and volunteers got to work to create a safer, healthier living environment for Stephen and Connie.

The bathroom tub was removed, bathroom subfloor was repaired and a new shower with grab bars was installed. “In the past if I dropped something in the shower and bent over to pick it up, I would fall over,” said Stephen. “The grab bars make it much more comfortable,” he added.

“I was really getting scared to get into the shower the way it was. I was having trouble lifting my leg over the tub,” said Connie. “I’d say a prayer every time I went in there because I was afraid Iscreen-shot-2016-12-30-at-3-17-40-pm wasn’t going to come out or I was going to fall. This is a God-send.”

Habitat volunteers also replaced and installed new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. The front gutter was caulked to keep the home’s porch dry and slip-free. Loose bricks on the back porch were removed and railing was installed.

The project, led by Construction Supervisor Bob Conway, was the first repair under Northern Ocean Habitat’s new Aging in Place program.  The AARP Foundation estimates that more than 19 million low-income, 50+ households currently live in unaffordable and/or inadequate housing. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) 2011 survey asked government leaders to identify the top three challenges in meeting the needs of or planning for older adults. The challenges most often cited were financial/funding shortages, transportation and housing. Specifically noted in their report is the lack of programs to provide home maintenance and repair assistance, home modification and targeted service delivery to meet the needs of older adults.

Northern Ocean is excited to kick off their Aging in Place initiative; this holistic approach looks to engage seniors in Habitat’s mission work while providing housing resources to improve quality of life. At the end of the day, a livable community for older adults is a livable community for everyone.

“Northern Ocean Habitat tremendously changed our everyday life,” shared Connie.
“This is just what we needed.”

Everyone deserves a decent place to live, and everyone can do something today to help make that possible for another person. Your financial support, your voice and your time will help bring strength, stability and self-reliance to people in need of a decent place to live. To make a donation now, click here. To learn more about ways to volunteer, click here.

If you are in need of home repairs or would like to learn more about Habitat’s programs, contact the outreach coordinator at outreach@nohfh.com or 732-228-7962 x 107.

About Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit housing ministry that brings people together to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter in northern Ocean County. To date, the Northern Ocean County affiliate has completed 17 new homes, 60 Hurricane Sandy critical home repairs and over 140 home repairs. Northern Ocean Habitat also operates the ReStore, a furniture and home goods thrift store at 1201 Lakewood Road, Toms River. For more information and to find out how to get involved, ‘like’ Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity on Facebook, visit the website at nohfh.com or call 732-228-7962.

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