About 87% of seniors plan on living in their own home for at least five to 10 years after turning 65, according to the AARP. Loved ones who are able to often prefer aging in place at their own home, which we are huge supporters of, but as a family member, it often causes us to have more concerns. Did you know that every year, 1 in 4 adults over age 65 take a fall? It is our job as their protectors, loved ones, supporters to make sure that they are as safe as possible. Home improvements and modifications help our loved ones keep their independence and help prevent accidents. Here are some tips on how to make a home safe for your aging parents or loved ones, we hope that these will help give you peace of mind AND keep them safe:
Home improvements that require physical adaptations:
A walk-in shower or tub
Depending on your loved one’s shower or tub situation, their current set up may put them at greater risk, especially loved ones that have mobility issues. It’s typically when one is getting into or out of the shower that causes issues, once they’re in, it’s easy to stay there. Walk-in showers or bathtubs is an easy fix to help your loved one get in or out much easier and prevent falls and trips.
Widen doors and hallways
Narrow doorways and hallways cause additional barriers for seniors who may need wheelchairs or just more room to move around in general. Widening doors and hallways are one way to help ensure that your loved one is safe and that there’s enough room for them and their caregiver to move around from room to room.
No-step entry into the home
Steps and stairs entering the home make it easier for someone to get injured. It’s always a great idea to have at least one way of entry that doesn’t require steps. Adding an outdoor ramp, regardless if your loved one is in a wheelchair or not, is a great way to help give them the extra security they need for their steps.
We know we just said this but steps and stairs are often a high risk for seniors to trip and hurt themselves. Adding an electric stair lift helps to provide additional safety they may need to move around their home. Often times people recommend consolidating seniors living spaces to be downstairs, or in one room or area but seniors living at home may not want to do that! Adding an electric stair lift (or an elevator) helps to get your loved one from the top of the stairs to the bottom, much more safely.
Install new floors to prevent falls, slips, and trips!
Walking on dangerous floors is bad news for everybody, but especially senior citizens. Updating flooring and ensuring that carpet is secured properly to the floor is a great first step to preventing falls, slips, and trips. It’s recommended that carpet is more than half an inch thick and that ADA compliant anti-slip bathroom floors can help to prevent slipping. IF you don’t want to replace all of the floors, they have ADA approved anti-slip coating that you can put over the bathroom or kitchen tiles.
Our friends at the Spruce have some recommendations on the best flooring for those folks choosing to age in place.
Home modifications that are easy fixes.
In addition to, or sometimes in lieu of home improvements are simple home modifications that we can do to help support our loved ones and make sure that they are safe in their home. Here are some easy solutions for home modifications.
A raised toilet seat
A raised toilet seat helps a user sit down without having to be as low down as on a standard toilet. As you might imagine, as we get older, this becomes a bigger burden and more difficult. These often come with handles to assist and helps to give extra safety to those going to the bathroom. These are relatively easy to install yourself but if you’re feeling uncomfortable, you can always hire a contractor to get it done right for you!
Providing better lighting for our loved ones helps reduces fall risks. Ensuring that there is plenty of lighting in bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, and other areas make it easier for them to see and avoid obstacles.
In addition to better lighting, it’s also a great idea to add wireless motion sensing lights. Sometimes seniors forget, sometimes they think their eyes are better than they are and adding wireless motion sensing lights help ensure that they have the lights they need. There are other easy lighting solutions like automatic night lights, touch lamps, and touch button lights.
Whether it’s a shower chair or a bathtub chair, these are easy things everyone can add to their bathtub or shower of choice. It’s easy and a relatively inexpensive thing so that the senior in your life can rest while bathing. This helps to eliminate slippery surfaces while still allowing them to take care of themselves. It’s just the extra bit of stability that can make a huge difference. Don’t worry about any sliding! These devices usually come with suction cups to help make sure the chair or bench stays in place. It’s a great solution for senior safety.
Doorknobs with pull handles
Doorknobs with pull handles or even door levers are much easier for seniors to open than a round doorknob. Updating doorknobs is an easy thing to do and will help your loved one open doors without getting frustrated or unable to do it. According to the CDC, In the United States, 23% of all adults, or more than 54 million people, have arthritis.
If your parent, sibling, friend or another person in your care has arthritis, having the wrong doorknob makes every task so much harder due to the motion required to opening them, having a doorknob with pull handles or levers, makes it easier and safer for anyone to open the door.
Grab bars/rails in high-risk areas such as bathtubs, showers, toilets, and near beds
Safety bars and rails are a great source of extra safety for your loved one! It helps to provide stability, reduce falls, and support your favorite senior when they need it most. It makes it easier for them to get in/out of the bath, up and down from a toilet and just provides overall stability. There are so many different types of grab bars and safety rails that you have to figure out the specific goals and needs of your loved one. This is an easy installment and will make both you and your loved one feel safer.
No-slip strips in the bathtub, shower, and any stairs
Non-slip strips are primarily used for bathroom showers and bathtubs to help prevent slipping! You can use them on any stairs also as they provide extra traction so that everyone can shower, bathe and walk without fear that they are going to fall or hurt themselves. There are also bathtub mats and shower mats to help with this too. Figure out what works best for the needs of your loved one, this is an easy solution to provide additional support.
Use offset door hinges to allow for more room
Don’t have the money or space to widen doorways? No problem! Try to get some offset door hinges to allow for more room for your loved one, whether they’re in a wheelchair, using a walker, or need to walk in conjunction with a caregiver. Offset hinges are created to help expand your doorways, trust us when we say, they’re like magic. They let you open your doors further out than normal hinges. It is super helpful to provide more space to get through. Try it yourself. You can get them at any local hardware store and install them quickly.
Update loved one’s bed
Adjustable beds for seniors may sound like a cliché, but they’re really a game changer. They truly allow for the seniors to get in and out of their bed comfortably. Many of these beds have a lift feature. Depending on the type of bed you get (trust us when we say, there are many) they often have additional guard rails to keep them in at night, so they’re extra safe. Lots of seniors have a hard time sleeping, an adjustable bed allows them to adjust their heads to stay up and read or watch T.V. without having to move to another room. This helps eliminate potential risks of falling or injury at nighttime when they may or may not have someone around to support them. Whatever type of bed you get, consider updating their bed to make sure they have something that helps keep them comfortable, alleviates backaches, and keeps them safe.
Before you do any home improvements and modifications, make sure you have a plan. Evaluate your needs and the needs of your loved ones. Often times this may include calling in a professional to help make a home assessment. They will be able to help you identify the best way to adapt your home so that your loved one can be comfortable and safe, in the comfort of their own home.
Happy at Home is an in-home care company providing exceptional in-home care services including help with grocery shopping, errands, bathing & showering, light housekeeping, and more. Our personalized care offers peace of mind and gives your loved ones the one-on-one care they deserve. We are located in Chico, Sacramento and opening up soon in Southern Oregon. Please contact us today to discuss how we can be of service to you or your loved one. Safety and equipment recommendations are part of the care plan assessment and those are always free!