Aging in Place: Simple Home Modifications That Improve Safety
Aging in place is a concept that refers to seniors utilizing the products, services, and conveniences they need so that they can live independently and comfortably in their own homes. In other words, as seniors age, home modifications become necessary to ensure their safety. Consider implementing the following simple home modifications that will give you and your aging loved one peace of mind.
Declutter, Organize, and Remove Trip Hazards
Decluttering a house involves removing any unnecessary items from each room. For seniors, this process should also include creating wide-open paths between rooms and removing any potential trip hazards.
Consider offering any unneeded furniture to family or friends. Selling or donating the furniture are viable options as well. Additionally, you’ll want to intentionally place everyday items, such as food, clothing, and the TV remote, in easily accessible places to avoid unnecessary exertion. During the organization process, keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to ensure a senior can safely travel from room to room without any clutter getting in their way.
As for eliminating trip hazards, be sure to carefully examine items that are located close to or at floor level for any possible dangers they pose. For instance, remove any rugs or carpets that have a tendency to bunch up. Even if they add to the home’s beautiful décor, it’s not worth chancing a fall. Cables are another area of concern. Although their presence is often unavoidable, it’s important to keep wires tucked away and clear of high traffic areas. If necessary, use cord covers, particularly in places where cords cannot be moved.
Install Proper Lighting
As we age, our eyes no longer see as well in dim light, so it’s especially important for seniors to have proper lighting throughout their home. Scan the house and assess the lighting situation in each room. If installing new light fixtures is the best decision, then consider incorporating sound-activated light products or smart lighting options for ease of use. More often, however, stick-on lights, higher wattage bulbs, night lights, or even light tape, which can be affixed to stairwells or inside drawers, are the only alterations that need to be made. Not to mention, these options are often more affordable.
Upgrade Your Doorbell, Smoke Detectors, and Alarm System
Along with our eyesight, our hearing can deteriorate over time. So, if you notice that your loved one is having a hard time hearing the doorbell ring, or worse yet, an alarm sound, seriously consider upgrading these products to ones that come equipped with light features. For example, some doorbells offer a second form of notification in that they not only ring when the button is pressed, but they will also emit a flashing strobe light.
Similarly, there are versions of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors available that emit flashing lights along with an alarm sound, so that the hearing impaired can be effectively alerted in the event of an emergency.
Another emergency you and your loved one should also prepare for is a break-in. If the home does not have one already, consider having an alarm system with security lights installed for increased protection.
Safeguard the Bathroom
Falls occur most frequently in the bathroom compared to anywhere else in the home, largely due to a person’s decreased mobility and the slick conditions produced by water. For example, seniors with mobility issues may experience difficulties when using a toilet. A simple solution is to install an elevated toilet seat. Not only does an elevated toilet seat reduce the distance a person must bend to use the facilities, but they are also quite easy to install.
A shower chair is another useful product in that it provides a means for independent bathing. Plus, they’re reasonably priced and fairly easy to assemble.
The addition of traction slips on the bathroom floor and at the bottom of the bathtub or shower is a precautionary measure that should be taken into consideration too. The increased traction will significantly reduce the risk of falling on wet surfaces.
Replace Door and Faucet Handles
For those suffering from arthritic hands, certain everyday tasks, such as using a faucet handle or turning a doorknob, may become increasingly arduous. To help alleviate this issue, lever door handles and faucets could be installed, which require less effort to use compared to other styles. Motion sensor faucets are another option and are ideal, especially for those living with an advanced stage of arthritis.
Our homes are comfortable and familiar to us, so it’s completely understandable why seniors choose to live in their homes for as long as possible as they age. That being said, safety is paramount when it comes to aging in place, and in order to achieve the highest level of safety at home, your loved one’s condition must be monitored closely so adjustments in the home can me made accordingly. Following the simple home modifications mentioned above will not only help increase safety, but it will also allow you to rest easy at night, feeling fully confident in your loved one’s well-being.Back to all articles