Making your home aging-friendly will help create a safe space for the elderly in your home, where they can feel comfortable living life as they’ve been doing. With aging, the simplest activities such as climbing stairs can become challenging tasks.
Modifying your home to meet the needs of its elderly inhabitants can make it easier for them to navigate day-to-day life at home. While old age homes offer such amenities, there are many more advantages to transforming your existing home into an elderly-friendly place.
These advantages include limiting the expenses that come with using old age home facilities, as well as allowing the elderly to age in a place they are familiar and comfortable with. Here we have for you a detailed guide on how to make your elderly loved one feel more safe and secure at your home.
1. Modifications for the Floor
Modifying your floor is one of the first and foremost things one should do to make their home more aging-friendly. You should first consider your existing flow and make changes accordingly. Carpets with shorter naps are more convenient for the elderly to walk on since they are less likely to cause tripping, and they allow for easy use of wheelchairs.
It is easier yet to use wheelchairs on hardwood and tile floors, but then again, such flooring is slippery. You can add non-slip wax to such floors to make them less slippery. You could also have the elderly in your home wear rubber house slippers that would give them a good grip while walking. If you have any rugs on the floor, be sure to remove them, since elderly people may trip over the edges and corners.
2. Kitchen Modifications
For elderly individuals to be able to access the kitchen with ease, a number of modifications need to be made. Appliances that are just out of reach and storage spaces too high up can hinder an elderly person’s ability to use their kitchen efficiently and independently.
This is much more inconvenient for those confined to a wheelchair. Some basic renovations you can make include adjusting counter height, lowering sinks, and relocating essential appliances to more easily accessible places. For more structural modifications, you will have to consult a professional contractor. You can also keep microwaves and other such appliances on stands rather than having them placed on countertops.
3. Install Ramps
The biggest obstacle elderly individuals face when it comes to traversing through their homes is climbing staircases. Old age comes with many health issues, with knee and back pain being pretty common. With a sore knee or back, climbing stairs becomes rather difficult. Moreover, for the elderly with balance issues, climbing stairs can be dangerous since they are prone to losing their stability.
A simple solution to all these issues is installing ramps. Getting ramps installed at all interior and exterior staircases will give the elderly the independence to navigate through the home without needing to constantly request assistance. An alternative to ramps is using re-conditioned stairlifts that allow the elderly to use stairs with ease. Interior threshold ramps are also essential for those using wheelchairs to move from one elevated area of the home to another.
These threshold ramps are generally made of rubber, so they can be adjusted to accommodate step jamb heights. To install a ramp or stairlift, you can contact licensed contractors that will choose ramps of the appropriate height and rise for the elderly. You can also use temporary portable ramps that are much easier to install.
4. Widen Doorways
Widening doorways and hallways is an effective way to make it easier for the elderly to transition from one space to another and maneuver through doorways. This is particularly necessary if the elderly at your home use mobility assistance devices such as wheelchairs or walkers, since a narrow doorway will impede access when using these devices.
A wide doorway also prevents them from bumping into door frames. If there are door sills in place, you might want to get them removed since they pose a tripping hazard. Based on the placement of electrical switches and other structural and engineering aspects, the total cost of widening your home’s doors can vary. You can also replace standard rotating door knobs with lever handles.
5. Bathroom Modifications
Elderly individuals get injured in the bathroom more frequently than anywhere else in the home. Modifying your bathroom to make it as safe as possible for elderly use is a crucial part of making your home elderly-friendly. If the elderly individual in your home uses a bathroom that has a bathtub in it, then it is recommended to get the bathtub replaced by a walk-in shower. With all the getting in and out involved, bathtubs aren’t the easiest – or safest – to use for elderly individuals.
If replacing your bathtub isn’t an option, then there are many more affordable modifications that can be done to prevent any accidents from happening in the bathroom. You can begin by adding safety bars and adding textured safety strips to the tub space, which will avert any slips and falls from happening. Other alternatives include waterproof bathtub benches and chairs. A bathtub bench is essentially a bench or seat attached to the outer rim of the bathtub. While getting into the bathtub, the elder person first sits on the bench and then swings their legs into the bathtub. They can then lower themselves into the bathtub or sit on it and bathe. Bathtub chairs, as the name suggests, are chairs placed in the bathtub that one can sit on. These two accommodations make it much safer for elderly people to use the bathroom.
6. Medical Alert Mechanisms
A medical alert system is a valuable, life-saving tool one must have in a home with elderly individuals. These systems help monitor at-risk individuals and immediately contact emergency services if an accident happens or the alert button is pushed. Such mechanisms can easily be accessed and controlled through mobile apps or wearable devices that have speakers on them. Installing these systems is an inexpensive way to ensure the highest possible safety and comfort for the elderly staying in your home.
There is a multitude of things you can do to make your home a safe space for elderly individuals. If you’re not sure where to start, consult old age home facilities and professional caregivers for expert advice. Following our guide will help you make your home a comfortable and welcoming space for the elderly.