CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — As we get older, our bodies go through lots of changes.
Some of us aren't able to get around as well as we used to, which means making changes to how we live. That could mean moving into a nursing home or modifying your own home to age in place.
Danny Seiger, 87, has called his house in Cleveland Heights home for the past 53 years surrounded by his wife Marcia, their children and grandchildren.
"When the kids would come and bring the grandchildren, because we'd babysit. Oh my god, what my wife did different colored cups, different colored markers,” Seiger said.
In June 1996, Marcia Seiger was diagnosed with cancer.
"She didn't want to go to a hospice. And I said okay, what do you want? And she said I want to be at home,” Danny Seiger said.
Later that year, she died surrounded by family in that same home. After that, Seiger’s kids wanted him to move. They thought he should find a single level home or a senior-living facility, but he wasn't keen on the idea.
"And when they came to take her to the funeral home and I looked around. I thought to myself, well this is my life. This is me. My wife, my family, my children, my grandchildren, my neighbors, my community. Why do I have to go?”
The staff at the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging say that's a common way of thinking for people as they age.
"I have yet to come across someone who says you know, I can't wait to get old and spend the rest of my days in a nursing home,” said Terri Foster, the Director of the Aging and Disability Resource Center.
Rather, many people want to "age in place” or live at home, getting the help they need right there as they age and making home modifications.
Foster says even though it's hard to think about, starting when you're younger is key.
"You never know what's going to happen. You know, you're healthy and 60 all of a sudden you have a stroke, you go to the hospital and now you have paralysis or hemiplegia on your one side and you can't get up the stairs. And you weren't planning for this,” Foster said.
Foster suggests changing the simpler things first like switching door knobs to lever hands and moving outlets higher up so you don't have to bend over.
Seiger says he didn't have to do any of that, but he did get a special recliner and walker and has two caretakers who help him during the day. And since he wouldn't budge on moving to a single level home he made a compromise with his kids to get a stair lift that helps him move from the first and second floors.
"The kids couple years ago got me that stair lift so when I ride on that. I feel like a Maharaja, I see my domain,” Seiger said.
Getting help from family is something the agency encourages because there are so many home modification scams targeting seniors.
"You need to know that people are credentialed that they actually do what they say they're doing, make sure that the Better Business Report is a good report,” said Doug Beach, the CEO of the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging.
The cost for modifications varies from home to home, but it can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. But Seiger says the payments for his mortgage, taxes, and insurance are less than what it would cost for an assisted living facility.
And he's happier growing grow older in his own home surrounded by his precious memories.
"Me the cup is always 90% full, okay. I'm a blessed man. Everything is easy. Everything's good.”
If you are considering the aging in place process for a family member, you may qualify for some financial help. You can call your city hall to find out if they offer any kind of grant or low interest loan.