Senior Alternatives

Care Management and Home Care Services
Home Modifications

March 17, 2020

Home improvements, modifications and repairs can help older adults maintain their independence and prevent accidents. A home modification adapts a living space so that occupants can live safely, perform tasks better and live independently, despite their physical limitations. It is important to consider areas of the home that present the most trouble or concern. If there are things that are especially difficult for seniors, like reaching the countertops or light switches, modify them. If there are potential tripping or falling hazards, eliminate them or modify them accordingly. Taking a proactive approach to modifying the home means that seniors can age in place independently while their loved ones have peace of mind knowing that their aging loved ones are safer in their homes.

Go through each room with an eye towards the following:

Safety. Does anything pose a safety hazard in the room? Can the senior move around the room and perform tasks safely?

Accessibility. Is everything accessible to the senior? Can they reach things and work switches, doors, cabinets and plugs? Can they perform necessary or desired tasks in this room?

Adaptability. Are there things in the room that could be adapted so they are easier for the senior to reach or use or so that the senior can get around more easily and safely?

While life in an assisted living community can be convenient as well as luxurious, not everyone wants to move simply because they are getting older. Most people actually tend to want to age in place, in their lifelong homes and familiar neighborhoods. 

Here are a few specific things to consider. Replacing the round doorknobs in your parents’ home with lever-style handles helps people with arthritis or grip issues easily open doors. Improving the lighting can mean putting bright nightlights in hallways and bathrooms and using table or floor lamps for sitting areas for reading. 

Installing grab bars or railing in high-risk areas like bathrooms and bedrooms offers additional support and prevents slip and fall injuries. Install grab bars near the toilet, and in the shower/bathtub since these surfaces get slippery. You may want to install bars near the bed so they can get in and out of bed safely. Make sure your grab bar holds up to 250 pounds, and install it by screwing it into wall studs, not just sheetrock. It is also a good idea to purchase a bathtub transfer bench. Getting into the tub while seated greatly reduces the risk of dangerous slips and falls for seniors. Some seniors who cannot spare the required bathroom floor space for bathtub transfer bench legs opt for bathtub chairs, which sit completely inside the bathtub. 

Finally, one of the most valuable tools available to a person aging in place is a medical alert system. The wearable styles usually connect to a home base that is easily installed on a wall or can be set on a flat surface. Many alarms have two-way speakers on them, allowing for direct communication between the wearer and their emergency contact. 

Whatever modifications you make will improve your loved one’s safety and your peace of mind while they age in place.

Taking a proactive approach to modifying the home means that seniors can age in place independently while their loved ones have peace of mind knowing that their aging loved ones are safer in their homes.

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