ore and more Americans desire to “age in place.” Afterall, who doesn’t want to stay in a home where they have lived for decades rather than move to a facility no matter how nice it is?
But, homes that worked well when people were in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s may pose dangers as people age into their 70’s and especially 80’s. What can be done to help older adults be safer in their homes?
Well, it turns out there are many ways to modify a home to make it safer. Some improvements are quite modest and inexpensive, too.
- Declutter—Get rid of all the stuff lying around the house that is easy to fall on.
- Add traction to areas that are likely to cause falls. Place no-slip strips in the tub and nonslip wax on the floors. Stick nonskid tread on stairs. All of these things make it more difficult to slip.
- Remove throw rugs or secure them so the edges don’t rise and become a tripping hazard.
- Use a waterproof bench or chair in the shower. Install grab bars in areas where they are needed, usually in the shower or tub.
- Install a raised toilet seat.
- Install bed rails.
All of these suggestions are easy and fairly inexpensive. Each solution reduces the chances of a fall, one of the leading ways seniors injure themselves.
Of course, other home improvements can, and often should, be made for safety’s sake. These are a bit more difficult and cost more, but if they prevent an accident, it will be money well spent.
- Install a ramp if needed, especially to cut down walking up and down steps.
- Widen hallways and doors. This can be particularly important if the homeowner needs to use a wheelchair.
- Install a walk-in tub. Again, to reduce the chance of falling in the bathroom.
- Modify the kitchen, which may mean reducing the height of the counters or sink. Again, this can be especially useful if the resident is in a wheelchair.
Finally, although it is not a home improvement, using a fall alert service can be helpful if the above safety measures are insufficient. Many alert services detect falls automatically and dispatch help.