St. Louis Living in Place Resources

Gretchen, the OT Realtor

October 25, 2021

Healthy, happy, independent home living is best protected with thoughtful planning and expert support.

To that end, Truehold is hosting an interview series to better connect you with local St. Louis professionals and resources on aging and living in place.

We spoke to Gretchen Kingma, at Empowered Homes, to learn more about what she does, how she helps families determine whether aging in place is right for them, and what to keep in mind to protect your ability to stay home.

Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to serve local seniors.

When I was in high school, my grandmother suffered from severe dementia and for some reason, I just absolutely loved spending time with her. I felt that even though her cognition was impaired, that she was impacted by the connection, and on top of that she was freaking hilarious. My mom always said that I was Grandma’s favorite, because everyone knew we had a special bond.

Fast forward to college, I had the opportunity to graduate early, and stayed in my college town working full-time as a caregiver for a 93-year-old woman named Maria. Much like my grandmother, I just loved spending time with her. While in Occupational Therapy school, I always favored the geriatric care cases and went on to become an OT manager at a massive senior living community. Now in my own business, I love advocating for seniors in a way that most don’t. I love providing creative solutions for seniors and their families when it comes to their housing needs!

Can you briefly explain what your business is and how it helps people live in place better?

Empowered Homes has been in business for 4.5 years and I am proud of being a resource offering multiple solutions.

I combine Occupational Therapy and Real Estate. I am able to help you weigh whether it makes more sense to modify your home in order to age-in-place, or whether you should sell and look for a new place. If staying put is the best option, my team completes home safety assessments and has the relationships to make my recommendations come to life.

What are your top tips for how people can maintain a healthy, happy life at home as they get older?

PREVENTION and PLANNING are the keys to staying at home.

In order to maintain a happy healthy life at home I recommend all people, not just seniors, take a proactive approach. Be proactive when thinking about how your space affects your health and wellbeing. Be proactive when planning financially. Be proactive when thinking about the type of community you want to age-in-place in. All in all, BE PROACTIVE.

What are your tips for families on how to support older loved ones that live independently at home?

Educate yourself on and utilize technology within the home. There are so many great advances in tech to keep people safe at home. Everything from Amazon Alexa to auto-shut off stove tops. Lean in to the advances in tech to keep your loved one happy, healthy, and thriving at home!

What other resources do you suggest people look to?

The AARP Homefit Guide is a free PDF that offers great insights when setting up your home for success.

Where can readers find you if they have questions? 

You can reach me any time at www.empoweredhomes.com or gretchen@empoweredhomes.com. My social media profiles are on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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