Aging at home is more desirable than moving to assisted living. This is called Aging-In-Place. In fact, the AARP reports that 90% of seniors plan to age at home. However, most senior homes are not equipped for the comfort, convenience, and safety of the elderly. So, how can you or your loved one achieve a senior-friendly home?
Fortunately, floor-to-ceiling renovations are not necessary. Instead, a few small changes will go a long way to improving senior quality of life and relieving pressure on home healthcare workers.
Consider these important tips for home modifications that make aging at home easy:
Safety, Security, and Aging at Home
Seniors are more likely than younger people to experience falls and accidents. As such, preparing to age at home requires special attention for safety and security.
Start by tackling lighting. Sufficient lighting makes a big difference for seniors experiencing diminished eyesight. Seniors need two or three times as much light in order to see, so the addition of light fixtures and wide windows is recommended. Make sure that desks, tables and sewing machines have task lighting available. Also, consider repainting dark rooms in light, glare-free colors.
Remove throw rugs and obstacles that could cause a fall. Minimize slipping by treating non-carpeted areas with non-slip sealant. If feasible, consider swapping hardwood and tile floors for carpeting.
Don’t forget the outside of your home! Add outdoor lighting, including guide lights along paths, and clear shrubs and clutter from paths, decks, and patios.
Also, consider installing an alarm or “panic” system that allows the homeowner to call for help in the event of a fall.
Mobility and Convenience
If you use a walker or a wheelchair, you may need to widen your doorways. A cheaper and easier alternative is re-hanging doors with swing clear hinges. These allow the door to open all the way and make standard doors wheelchair accessible quickly and easily. Also, if your house is multi-level, you may want to install a chairlift. Finally, replace doorknobs with lever handles and standard light switches with rockers, both of which are much easier for arthritic hands.
The kitchen and bathroom are particular areas of concern in terms of convenience and safety. Step-in showers are best for seniors. A walk-in tub is another alternative, but is often more expensive. Add grab bars to showers and toilets for additional support.
In the kitchen, induction cooktops may be better than traditional stoves since there are no open flames and dishwashers with drawers reduce the need to bend down. Ensure the most-used cooking and dining supplies are in cabinets as close to eye level as possible.
If you are making home modifications for a senior relative, remember: they know what they need. The goal should not be to reduce their independence but to enhance it, reducing their reliance on you and home health aides while aging in their own home.
The most important thing to remember is that small changes can be better than larger ones. In many cases there are cheap and easy options that can alleviate small stresses. Even small things like “reachers” or talking clocks can make a huge difference to you or your relative’s quality of life.
For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us online or by phone at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide how to provide your loved ones with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn.