In 2010, AARP conducted a study of elderly participants. This study showed that about three-fourths of folks would prefer to spend as much time as possible in their home with their families, as opposed to an alternative living situation. In addition, calling an assisted living facility home can be extremely expensive. Of course, not all salaries, retirement funds, or family accommodations will be able to afford this cost.
Although aging in the home may be financially responsible, it can be dangerous when a house is not properly equipped for all ages. Each year 2.5 million older Americans are treated in emergency care for fall injuries. One out of five of these falls results in a broken bone, head injury, or other serious trauma. What’s more, 85% of all seniors has done absolutely nothing to prepare their home for safe aging. When accommodating for aging family members in the home, steps should be taken to ensure everyone is comfortable and safe from potential harm.
Store all sharp or dangerous objects in secure areas to avoid accidental injury. However, make sure that all items that can be used by your loved one are within reach and are easy to handle. Heavier items, like pots and pans, should be kept at a reasonable height for those who may have back or leg problems.
Make sure that all switches are marked properly so they aren’t confused with one another. Garbage disposals and fans are especially important. All working areas in the kitchen should be lit well enough to ensure cooking is safe. Motion sensors can also be installed near a stove which will automatically turn off the stovetop when the user walks away for an extended period of time.
Bed height can be a huge issue for those with leg or back ailments. If an entire bed frame replacement isn’t an option, bed height risers are an inexpensive option for those who might enjoy a little bit more lift. Flat bed platforms are also something to think about for children or elderly family members.
A reachable stool or stand near the bed can be used to steady oneself in when going from sitting or prone position to standing. This is also useful for a little extra stabilization when getting dressed in the morning or changing into night clothes.
Many simple modifications to the bathroom can make a home living experience easier for all those who are living in the residence. First, grab bars in the shower and near the toilet can easily be installed to prevent slipping. Plastic or rubbery bath mats are another good idea around these areas to allow extra control.
Correctly marked and easy to read labels can help to avoid possible burns when using hot water. Getting the water heater checked regularly will also avoid over or under heating of water. Most water heaters will have a moveable setting on the outside to increase or decrease temperature intensity as needed.
Bathtub and toilet height are also areas to take into consideration. Comfortable seating pads can increase the height if necessary. Steps that provide an even amount of grip are also available for placement around the tub and toilet areas in case extra control is needed for seniors or children.
Harsh ledges or stairs leading outside can undoubtedly become a falling hazard. Adding in a ramp for wheelchair access might be an easier option for those who aren’t able to traverse areas with stairs. Another option could be adding in a handrail in order to keep steady. Always make sure that walking paths are clear of debris as well as ice, given the time of year. Door mats or other rubberized pads are a safer choice for anyone around potentially slippery areas.
If your loved ones will be coming and going during low light hours, it is a smart idea to equip any home with adequate outdoor lighting. Affordable lighting options now include motion activated lights that don’t require constant attention. These can be placed just about anywhere on the outside of a home and are usually waterproof and quite sturdy.
All house residents should always have easy access to a phone in order to contact health professionals or family members as needed. Making sure multiple phones are placed throughout the home in easily reachable places is a must for any safe home.
Stairways can also be quite dangerous for anyone with joint pain or problems with balance. If this is the case, consider installing a portable mover for those who may need to go up and down stairways on a regular basis. If applicable, think about adding in a ramp or other means of entering areas that will be accessed regularly.
Naturally, there are many other updates that can be made to a home in order to make it safe for all ages. When considering aging in the home as an option, keep in mind that larger modifications might be necessary to make daily life easier for elderly family members. Always speak with your family member about their desired living situation and with a home improvement specialist before making changes.