Managing what used to be the simple tasks of day-to-day living can become challenging. However, clever modifications can mean the difference between struggling to maneuver and being able to comfortably and safely stay at home.
Safety first. One of the first areas of concern for seniors is ensuring the home environment is safe. Some experts point out that as we age we lose flexibility and balance. Add waning vision and loss of muscle and bone mass and we have a perfect storm, leaving seniors open to falls with serious complications.
As HomeAdvisor explains, “For seniors to keep their independence, they must have a safe environment to live in. Safe is a relative term that must factor in a person’s individual needs. Understanding your health, medical conditions and any complications that may arise is the first step to staying in your own home.”
Prevent injuries. Some of the best ways to keep a senior safe is through simple, preventative measures. Think in terms of removing slipping and tripping hazards, and then in terms of support if a senior does become off-balance.
For instance, you can install handrails, seats and grab bars in shower areas and add nonslip mats for traction. Install an elevated toilet seat and faucets with lever-style handles.
Remove rugs and other floor clutter, such as ottomans and magazine racks. Secure furniture that could tip over, and eliminate household items with glass tops and sharp edges.
At least one entrance to the home should be step-free. The entrance can be in the front, back or side of the home, so long as there are no stairsteps. Consider installing a ramp for improved access.
Throughout the home. Addressing the property as a whole is a key to helping seniors remain mobile. Reader’s Digest notes you should evaluate some of the basic design elements to ensure safety and independence.
For instance, ideally seniors should live on one floor of the home with access to a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. Hallways should be a minimum of 42-inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs, and there should be at least one no-step entry to the home in order to accommodate wheelchairs.
Light switches and outlets should be easy to reach, even from a seated position, and rocker switches should replace traditional switches. Round door knobs and faucet handles should be replaced with lever-style handles. Thresholds throughout the home should be level and free of steps.
Details make the difference. Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference in living happily and comfortably. When someone experiences a mobility loss, this can be particularly true.
For instance, moving dishes to low-level cabinets makes them easier to manage, and installing cabinet hardware that is easy to grasp can smooth out meal prep and clean up.
Turning the water heater down to 120 degrees can prevent scalding, and replacing appliance knobs with easy to grab knobs can make preparing food a breeze.
You may wish to complete a simple but thorough home modification assessment for aging in place to ensure you are creating a more comfortable, age-friendly living environment.
Funding your changes. Some home modifications can be expensive. Fortunately, there are several funding resources available to help meet the needs of those with changes in mobility.
Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for assistance through the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Agriculture, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Keep moving! With well-planned modifications, seniors can remain mobile in spite of mobility loss. Evaluate the home and make wise changes. A safe and accessible environment lays the foundation for continued independence.
Author: Hazel Bridges
- website: Agingwellness.org