Tips on Making a Home Safe and Accessible for Seniors

Health and Safety

Tips on Making a Home Safe and Accessible for Seniors

 

The vast majority of seniors wish to stay in their own homes as they age. This can put a strain on both the senior and their family since it can become increasingly unsafe for an older adult to remain at home if they start losing their mental and physical capabilities. However, often times, modifications can be made to the senior’s house to make it safer for them, allowing them to stay where they are most comfortable.

 

The Entryway

The ideal house for an elderly person would be a ranch style home with an entryway at ground level, but this isn’t always possible. Seniors tend to have more trouble maintaining their balance. Therefore, caretakers should do everything they can to remove hazards that could cause a fall, especially in the entryway of the home, where the senior must deal with several obstacles at once. These include cracked or uneven sidewalks, climbing up any inclines to reach the door, unlocking the door and opening it with any parcels they might have in hand, and stepping up into the house and setting down any baggage. Ideas to reduce the risk of falling while entering the house include:

  • Repaving uneven sidewalks if possible
  • Scuff up the surface in front of the door or add non-slip tape to improve footing
  • Placing non-slip flooring in the entryway of the house
  • Ensuring that there are no uneven spots in the floor by the doorway
  • Using ramps to build a no-rise entryway to the home, eliminating the need to climb
  • If ramps are not possible, install railings at least 1.5″ in diameter on any stairs so that the railing can easily be gripped by someone with a weak grip or joint problems
  • Place contrast strips on the top and bottom of the stairs to increase visibility
  • Create a color contrast between the treads and risers of the stairs for maximum visibility
  • Provide a surface by the door both inside and outside the house above waist level to deposit any packages and thereby limit distractions
  • Cover the entryway to keep off the weather
  • Ensure that the entryway is well-lit
  • Install motion sensing lighting and aim the light at any stairs, ramps or locks

The Kitchen

 

The Kitchen

Most homes come with kitchens that require a lot of bending over or reaching for things that are up high, which could lead to various difficulties or even injuries for someone with reduced physical abilities. Since physical capabilities tend to deteriorate with age, it’s essential that all appliances are easy to use and everything is easy to get to.

  • Ensure that all appliances have easy-touch, boldly-labeled controls
  • Install a side-swing or wall oven to reduce the need to reach over a hot surface
  • Install a microwave drawer to maximize counter space and accessibility
  • Make sure any items that are used often are on an open, easily-accessible shelf
  • Install glass cabinet doors so the contents can be seen
  • Use lazy susans and roll-out trays for easy access
  • Make sure the faucets have pressure-balanced valves to prevent huge jumps in heat
  • Set the hot water heater temperature to a maximum of 120 degrees
  • Cover any exposed hot water pipes
  • Install pedal-controlled faucets to make them easier to turn off and on without reaching or multi-tasking

The Bathroom

The bathroom is where many household accidents occur due to the presence of wet, slippery surfaces as well as activities that require a lot of bending and mobility, especially when seniors are involved. Therefore extra attention must be paid to this area to make sure it is safe.

  • Place high-quality non-slip bath mats, rugs, or tape throughout the bathroom. Cheap bath mats may actually increase the risk of falling.
  • Install grab bars in the shower and next to the toilet and be sure they are secure (Do not use diagonal bars, hands slip off of these too easily)
  • Make sure there are back-bracing walls by the grab bars
  • Put a cushioned seat in the shower. If the seat extends outside of the shower to allow for easy exit, this would also increase safety.
  • Make sure the shower head is height-adjustable and handheld with a six-foot hose to reduce the amount of movement necessary for bathing.
  • Make sure the shower is floor-level so it is not necessary to step up into the shower.
  • Most showers are poorly lit, so install extra lighting if possible

Few homes are built with seniors in mind, but they can be made safe for seniors relatively easily, allowing elderly loved ones to happily age where they feel most at home.

 

 

Featured Image Credit: Pexels / Pixabay
In Post Image Credit: stevepb / Pixabay