Each year, millions of older people who are 65 and older fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, according to the CDC. Most of these falls are happening at home. This is why it’s important to evaluate your home – and make any modifications – to ensure that it meets the evolving needs of its older residents.
Bathrooms are a Safety Hotspot for Older Adults
Whether you live alone, with a partner, or with a roommate, chances are you are going to have to make modifications to your home to make it safe, navigable, and comfortable as you age in place. One of the goals of home modification is to decrease your chances of falling, especially in the bathroom.
A few basic things to consider include motion-detected lighting and investing in non-slip bath rugs and shower mats. As we age, we lose our ability to see at night. Lighted switches and motion-activated lighting are two simple to install safety features that can make a real difference especially when using the bathroom in the middle of the night.
According to the CDC, more than half of bathroom injuries are directly related to using the shower and getting into or out of the bathtub. Installing handrails, grab bars, and built-in shower seats in the bathroom could reduce the risk for seniors. Some other modifications to consider include:
- Installing and walk-in bath and shower
- Installing an anti-scald device on your skink
- Widening your door and mounting your sink to the wall for easy wheelchair access
- Purchasing seats, stools, or benches for support and transferring
Bedrooms Should be About Comfort and Safety for Seniors
For many, your bedroom is the place you want to feel the most comfortable and safe. For this reason, one of the first modifications you should consider making is moving your or your loved one’s bedroom to the main floor of the house, if possible. This will eliminate one of the biggest challenges as we age, which is climbing stairs.
If you have the resources and can’t move your bedroom to the first floor think about installing a stairlift. Another way to improve the safety of your bedroom is to ditch loose rugs and clear the area of clutter. Also, make sure you have good lighting, including in your closets. Good lighting is especially important, for example, when an older adult needs to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
Floors and Entryways: Helping Seniors Safely Move About Their Homes
It’s important to make sure that you can easily get around your house. If your loved one is in a wheelchair, uses an assisted walking device, or just a bit unsteady on their feet, installing ramps as an entry into their house as well as around the home can ensure comfort and safety.
Additionally, widened doorways make it easy to get around with a wheelchair or any walking device. Consider the flooring as well. Throw rugs should be taken out. Long, shaggy carpet can be a hazard, so consider swapping that out for short hair or hardwood floors. If the floor tends to get slippery, traction tape can help prevent falls.
Kitchen Renovations: Remodeling for Convenience and Safety
The kitchen is an important but potentially dangerous room. Over 170,000 kitchen-fires every year are caused by cooking equipment – with 550 fatalities, according to The National Fire Protection Association.
As a first step, remove all rugs and mats. Keep your kitchen floor clutter-free to avoid tripping or falls. Good lighting is just as important in the kitchen as it is in your bathroom, bedroom, and hallways.
If you’re in a wheelchair or require mobile assistance, make sure cabinets, countertops, and other kitchen appliances are accessible and easy to reach and use. Also, make sure that your cooktops have color indicators that let you know whether the burners are on or still hot after the cooktop has been shut down. Lastly, look for kitchen appliances that have safety features such as automatic shutoff options and large type displays.
Smart Home Technology Upgrades is a Game Changer for Senior’s Living at Home
Smart technology is making aging in place easier for you, or your loved one more than ever before. Many of these tech innovations have culminated in making homes “smart.” Smart homes are equipped with various devices that automate tasks usually handled by humans, such as answering the door, turning on and off appliances, and turning on and off lights.
Smart technology can also provide medical support, social connection, and peace of mind. In addition, loved ones can check to make sure that an older adult is doing okay by checking smart devices to find out when they got out of bed, last opened the refrigerator and more. Older adults can quickly call loved ones to ask for help or to simply say hello, or contact emergency medical help if needed.
For more information, check out AgeWise’s Technology section.