Terri Lemere has been an occupational therapist for more than 20 years, working in a variety of settings from nursing homes to hospitals. Now, she’s using her experience to help aging individuals modify their homes through her new company, Healthy Home Living Solutions.
Lemere, who lives in Middletown, said many people are not aware of the concept she specializes in: aging in place. The idea of aging in place is to allow people to live in their homes for as long as possible rather than outsourcing to long-term care if it’s not necessary.
“A lot of people, as we get older, we live in our homes and everything kind of stays the way it always has been, and we don’t even think about changing things to adjust to how we’re changing as we age,” Lemere said. “A lot of older people are living in homes that just aren’t safe for them anymore.”
Obstacles can include steps and stairs, master bedrooms on upper floors and bathtubs. But Lemere also looks at things like lighting, which can be a challenge for people with sight issues.
After completing her assessment, Lemere offers suggestions to her clients as well as local companies and contractors who can complete the work. Many of her clients also use their own handymen to complete the work.
Lemere acknowledged that while there are some building companies that do offer aging in place assessments, she feels her background gives her a different perspective.
“As an occupational therapist I can really take a look at the person and their physical and cognitive challenges, and how that may affect how they’re able to interact in their home environment as safely and as independently as possible,” she said.
Lemere offered assessments through the Maryland Medicaid Waiver Program for 20 years and saw the effects her suggestions could have on people’s quality of life. But she wanted to tap into the market of people who might not qualify for Medicaid, who might not know about the resources available to them. Many people, she said, wait until an accident happens to modify their homes.
“The beauty of [my service] is that it helps to prevent falls by creating a safer home. And the statistics show that once you fall once, your chances of falling again are a lot higher,” she said. “And as you get older, obviously if you fall, your chances of getting a hip fracture are high, you end up in the hospital and a lot of times, you’re in the system, you end up having to get more and more care.”
The pandemic has affected the long-term housing industry immensely, Lemere said, and she has seen a change in attitude among her clients who are now focusing more on making their houses as safe as possible and preventing accidents that might land them in long-term care.
“I feel like the pandemic has really changed all of us to think in terms of home is where it’s at,” she said, “and our homes really should be our oasis and our happy place.”
Open for Business is an occasional feature highlighting new businesses around Frederick County. Contact Erika Riley at email@example.com.