5 Ways To Make a Senior’s Home Safer
Cass Steele, Freelance Writer
With nearly 90% of all seniors over 65 years expressing their interest to age in place for as long as they can, making the home safe for them to live in is now more important than ever. America’s population is aging, and it is estimated that there will be 76 million seniors 65 years and above by 2035. The healthcare burden of seniors can be reduced by allowing them to age in place safely. By implementing safety measures at home for seniors and eliminating immediate threats, they can stay there for as long as they are otherwise able. Not only are we doing a service to the elderly allowing them to fade with dignity but, we also reduce the pressures on the healthcare system and improve the quality of care. To do this, there are serious home modifications that we must make.
- Secure Stairways or Move Seniors to the Ground Floor
Falls and slips are the number one causes of injuries and death among the elderly according to the CDC. Aging weakens their balance, gait, eyesight and motor coordination. Stairways are hazards for seniors because they can trip and fall. Ensure that the handrails are secured and that the step heights are adjusted to make climbing easier. Hallways and the stairs should also be properly lighted. Dedicating a room for them on the ground floor is another solution to avoid staircases altogether. If your loved one wants to keep their bedroom upstairs, it is also an option to fit an electricity-powered chair to move them safely.
- Modify the Bathroom
The bathroom is another threat to seniors living independently. Install grab bars, curb-less showers and elevated toilet seats for comfort. Taps should be replaced with motion sensors or levers. Place non-skid mats everywhere to avoid slipping. Put a chair in the shower or install a walk-in bathtub to avoid climbing over the ledge of a traditional tub. A bath lift can also be added if your seniors have difficulty getting in and out of the tub. For an extra layer of security, make sure that their life-saving alert buttons are hung around their necks or strapped on their wrists for any emergencies.
- Keep the Kitchen Safe
Seniors are at risk 2.5 times more for dying in a kitchen fire according to a FEMA report. The CDC states that more than 76 million cases of food poisoning occur each year. To make the kitchen a safe place for seniors, install induction stoves, smoke detectors and bright lighting. Invest in auto shut-off appliances. Put food and non-food items within reach and replace glass items with unbreakable materials. Check fridge temperatures, throw away spoiled food and make sure to remove clutter from the kitchen.
- Bedrooms Should Be Senior-Proofed
Removing carpets in the bedroom is a better option but if you cannot do this, put in anti-slip rugs. In addition to adequate lighting, you can also install lights that switch on or off by motion or command. Consider a senior bed that is elevated and adjustable to make it easy to get in and out. To avoid falls, install guard rails and plenty of grab bars in strategic places. All rooms and halls should have nightlights to prevent tripping (over the cat?)
- Improve Access Indoors and Outdoors
Widening doors ensures that seniors in wheelchairs, walkers and canes can gain access indoors and outdoors without a problem. ADA accessibility standards dictate that doorways must be at least 32” wide and halls 36” for wheelchair users. Removable ramps must also be in place for easy access.
It is possible for seniors to live independently in their own homes with little risks. By carefully planning home modifications and alterations, you can keep loved ones safe and happy through rest of their life journey.
This photo was Martie’s addition to remind us that keeping seniors strong also helps keep them safe. Exercise, good nutrition, and smart supplements go a long way toward that goal.