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Making Your Home Senior-Friendly
Making Your Home Senior-Friendly
Advanced age often introduces the need for home improvements to make it more senior-friendly. Whether you are converting a home to make it safe from injuries or more accessible for maneuvering around the house, the following are tips to help you transform a home into a senior-friendly zone.
- Safe entryway. The weather can make entryways treacherous for seniors. Make sure there is at least one entryway into the home that is covered by the elements to prevent hazardous falls. It is also important to provide hand rails that can be easily grabbed onto for safety on both sides of the entryway. You can also apply non-slip strips to the outside step to your house to prevent falls. Sidewalks can also tend to settle at different levels and crack with age. Make sure the walkway leading to the house is level and even.
Increased lighting around walkways and entryways is also important for seniors. You can place solar lights along walkways and have automatic lighting that comes on as you walk toward the house. If a ramp is needed for wheelchair accessibility, be sure to install handrails on both sides of the ramp for security.
- Easy functional kitchen. Create a kitchen that is easily accessible for a senior by having dishes, pots and pans, and utensils within reach. That eliminates the need for deep bending to get things out of lower cabinets or drawers, or the need to reach too high. It is especially important to have cabinets that are easily reachable if someone is in a wheelchair.
- Safe bathrooms. According to the National Institute on Aging, more than one in three seniors over age 65 fall each year, and 80 percent of those falls are in the bathroom. These falls are often due to the slippery and hazardous surfaces.
In order to create a safe and functional bathroom for seniors, you can add good quality bathmats or non-slip strips to the shower or bathtub to prevent falling and slipping. In addition, having grab bars installed in the bathtub, shower and around the toilet area can also prevent falls. Be sure to use U-shaped, vertical or angular bars, as diagonal bars can actually cause hand slippage and increase the risk of falling. It is also important to make sure the grab bars are able to support the weight needed to prevent accidents from occurring.
Adding a fold-down seat or bench can also be necessary to help seniors. They can prevent falls as well as provide assistance in the shower if they are not able to stand for long periods of time. Installing an adjustable hand-held shower head can also be helpful to elderly adults.
Consider whether or not the toilet is at the proper height to provide accessibility. Adding a seat extender with hand rails can make a big difference for seniors who find getting up and down from a sitting position difficult.
- User-friendly bedroom. Adding bedrails to the bed can prevent falls while sleeping, as well as provide balance and support for seniors as they get out of bed. Bedrails can also serve as a reminder for seniors to allow themselves to fully wake up before getting out of bed too quickly. Nightlights are also useful in bedrooms overnight when it’s dark. They can provide safe lighting for seniors in the middle of the night.
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