In today’s world of rising costs, especially of assisted living or service-enriched environments for the elderly, the focus of individuals with elders in the family, and of the U.S. government too, has in recent years, been to encourage efforts to help seniors to remain in their own homes or to ‘age in place’. It was, in fact, the reason for the announcement, in December 2012, of theU.S. Housing and Urban Development Department’s $26 million in grants for the purpose. Carol Galante, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner says,“We’re getting older as a nation and with that demographic shift, there is a growing demand for affordable housing that will allow our seniors to live independently in their own homes,” While not everyone is covered by this program, there are many creative adjustments and affordable solutions that can be made in the home environment to make it safe and secure for seniors. Here are some simple and inexpensive ways which will help.
Safety is of the utmost importance but comfort is also welcome!
- Since the elderly are more likely to suffer from falls, the first thing to do is treat the floors. Slip-resistant floors or wall-to-wall rugs with thick carpets that can protect against falls and reduce the risk of injury is something that cannot be overlooked. While lying rugs may look cute, they are an obvious danger. Keep all entrances and entrances clear of thresholds as well, to prevent any tripping. Also consider expanding doorways, in case wheelchair crops need to be used at a later time.
- Then there are the stairs that are especially dangerous for the elderly due to poor vision and movement. Securely fixing handrails along stairs at an appropriate height gives them a sense of security. Don’t forget to lighten the tread edges of the stairs to make it easier to distinguish faint eyes. You may also want to consider installing an elevator or chair if possible and within your budget.
- But the best option for seniors is to consolidate the living space into one level rather than the split level arrangements which are good when you are younger and more fit. Not only will this be safer for seniors, but it will also be less stressful.
- Bathrooms are the biggest culprits, so go ahead and redesign your bathroom so it doesn’t become a death trap! Bathtubs are a no! Replace it with a walk-in shower with a seating arrangement. Get professionally installed safety handles or knobs along with the toilets as well as in the bathroom. It goes without saying that the bathroom floor should be slip resistant. Also, don’t forget to install lever faucets with one handle. These shaky hands are easier to handle and prevent the chances of getting burns. Also, color-code the faucets to indicate which is hot and which is cold.
- The necessity of good lighting arrangements cannot be overstated. Prevent unnecessary glare by using incandescent bulbs instead of fluorescent bulbs. Always keep major traffic areas, indoors and outdoors, well lit. Use backlit light switches that can be found in the dark and make sure they are anchored below to walls for easy access, even by a person in a wheelchair. Install night lights strategically, and to achieve better effect, install motion sensors throughout the home. Pay special attention to the lighting arrangements at the main door and on the balcony. There is no substitute for natural daylight during the day, but control the unnecessary glare that may come with judicious use of blinds and other window treatments.
- Strengthen your home’s insulation so that drafts will not become a cause for concern. You can do this by beefing up the insulation of the walls, roofing and doors and windows. It would be to your advantage, long term, to invest in energy-efficient replacements of doors and windows especially. Try windows with the Comfort365 glass that Champion Windows manufactures, or any other that has the Energy Star label. Not only will they provide a greater degree of comfort by preventing drafts, they are also tougher and more secure with their multiple panes and laminated coating.
- Another aspect you cannot forget is to have a strong security system installed against unauthorised break-ins and unscrupulous elements. You could install an intercom and for additional safety, a medical alarm or senior alert system, which will help a senior summon help, if necessary, when alone at home.
- Finally, one important aspect which is absolutely essential is to eliminate all clutter from the home. Clutter has often proved to be the reason for broken bones! So make sure that everything has its proper place and that there are no loose ends lying around.
These are just some of the adjustments you can undertake to make your home elder-friendly. There are lots more but these will do to start with. Below are some websites from where you can get detailed information on more senior-friendly home improvement ideas and illustrations.Since none of us grows any younger, it would be in your interest to begin making some of these changes so that you can enjoy your twilight years in comfort and safety.