Many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. Of course your ability to do this depends on several factors, including the nature of the challenges you face in your current home. Major home renovations may be required, but there are also numerous inexpensive steps you can take to improve your living situation.
Improvements to make to your home safer
Flooring: carpeting is preferable to area rugs because it reduces tripping hazards and can cushion falls. But if area rugs are used, make sure they’re secured to the floor.
Handrails: on stairways, you can add a second handrail along the opposite wall for improved stability.
Footwear: to prevent falls, using non-slip shoes is preferable to slippers or socks.
Non-skid safety strips: adhered to the floor of a tub/shower, non-skid strips are preferable to removable in-shower bath mats.
Bathroom grab bars: ideally these should be anchored into the studs in the wall, but if that’s not possible opt for a safety rail clamped onto the side of the tub.
Quality stepladder: purchase a broad-based heavy-duty stepladder with a hand-hold bar across the top to safely reach items stored out of reach.
Lighting: whether it’s making a bathtub brighter or installing motion-activated night lights in the hallway and bathrooms, better lighting can help prevent falls and make hobbies, reading, etc. more enjoyable. Lighting improvements might be as simple as changing the bulbs (to higher wattages or to bulbs that mimic daylight instead of “yellow” soft lighting) or adding battery-operated units.
Convenience items to make staying at home easier
Hand shower: convert a standard fixed showerhead into a hand-held system with flexible hose.
Raised toilet seats: no need to buy a new toilet when a removable seat can be added to most standard toilets.
Mail catcher: mail delivered via a slot in the door may be easier to retrieve from a mail box, especially if a narrow basket is mounted below the door opening so the recipient doesn’t have to pick up mail off the floor.
Knobs: replace round door and/or faucet knobs with lever styles, which are easier to turn. Likewise, loop pulls can make drawers easier to open.
Eating: specially designed cups and eating utensils can minimize food spills, including weighted options that help counterbalance shake-prone hands.
Cooking utensils: lightweight and ergonomically designed utensils are readily available now, many offering non-slip handles and bright, attractive colors.
Keep things handy: move often-used items to easy-to-access locations.
Eliminate excess “stuff”: having fewer items to store, sort, juggle, and handle can make aging in place an easier and more enjoyable proposition.
Important: Use Trusted Professionals for Advice and Work
Many items can be purchased at a local durable medical equipment (DME) store. When needing to have anything built, removed, or adapted in your home, always consult with a professional contractor. There are contractors who specialize in home adaptations for seniors. If unsure who to contact, please give me a call and I can provide a list of resources for you to call to get further information and help.