Saturday, 30 May 2020

How to Retrofit Your Home for Seniors

Written by Posted On Friday, 03 April 2020 10:08

Many seniors are now aging at home rather than moving into assisted living facilities. However, many homes are not designed for aging in place. Modifications may need to be made to ensure seniors are comfortable and safe.

As the average age of the population increases, the home care system also becomes more important than ever. You may want to consider a caregiving solution for elderly parents who are living at home.

When modifying a home to ensure comfort and safety, you need to start by asking questions like the following ones.

  • Are there any loose rugs that could cause tripping?
  • Is the bathroom big enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair?
  • Is it possible to enter and exit the bath or shower safely?
  • Are countertops at the right height for comfortable access?
  • Are cabinets easy to reach?

Make the entry safe

Outside the home, repair any cracked or uneven areas on the walkway. If you can, create a no-rise entry with ramps. Make sure that there is one covered entryway into the home that’s protected from the elements. Increase lighting at the entry area and add non-slip flooring in the entryway inside the home.

Use the ground floor

It’s best if seniors stay on the ground floor if a home has more than one story. Navigating a long staircase is very difficult for seniors and if a bedroom is upstairs, it’s better to move it downstairs and make it a one-floor living. The upstairs bedroom could perhaps be used for a caregiver.

Kitchens

Kitchens can be dangerous spaces for seniors and your goal with the kitchen is to improve accessibility and prevent too much bending and stretching. Manual dexterity decreases with aging.

Appliances have to work for the elderly person, not the other way around. Switch to those with simple-to-use push buttons and easy-to-read controls. A side swing or wall oven allows for easier access.

  • Consider installing a sink that can be lowered or raised.
  • Lower the height of shelves and counters.
  • Convert to glass cabinet doors so items can be identified easily.

Bathrooms

Bathrooms can be quite hazardous for seniors to navigate with wet floors, and the need to sit and stand.

  • Add slip-prevention flooring, non-skid bath mats, and non-slip strips in the bath and shower.
  • Add grab bars to help give stability when seniors lower themselves onto a toilet or into a tub and have to get up again. Vertical, u-shaped or angle bars are better than diagonal bars.
  • A doorway may have to be widened to accommodate a wheelchair or walker.
  • Add a seat or bench in the shower. Some come with padded backs for added comfort.
  • Add extra lighting if a bathroom is dark.

Wheelchair access

If a senior needs a wheelchair, make sure to measure the width and see whether it will fit through the entryway and doorways in the house.

Door handles and light switches

An easy improvement is to replace round doorknobs with lever-style door handles which are easier to open when hands may be cramped with arthritis. Rocker light switches are also easier to handle than traditional light switches.

By remodeling a home to accommodate aging in place, and using professional caregivers if necessary, there is no reason why seniors can’t live out their years happily at home rather than go into an assisted living facility.

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