When was the last time you took a good look at your elder loved ones home? If it’s been a while, I want you to imagine what it’s like for him and/or her to spend 60% – 70% of their day navigating their home in it’s current state. Do you see the pitfalls? Can you recognize the potential dangers? 90% of older Americans want to age in place, but that means staying vigilant. There are many changes eldercare professionals whom I work with recommend to create a safer environment in your loved ones home. They range from no cost to expensive, so I’ve broken them down below to make it easy to reference.
NO-COST ELDERCARE HOME SAFETY TIPS
- Raise shades and open blinds during daylight hours to increase natural light inside the home.
- Remove clutter from the staircases and hallways to prevent falls.
- Secure electrical, phone and computer cord, along walls. Do not run the wires under carpeting to avoid the risk of fires.
- Set the hot-water heater to 120 degrees to prevent scalding.
- Remove all throw rugs, which can lead to falls.
There may be resistance to some of these changes and that’s understandable. After all, you’re suggesting to an adult that they are not safe in their own home. Let he or she know that you’ve made many of these changes in your own home.
LOW-COST ELDERCARE HOME SAFETY TIPS
Here are some low-cost changes ranging from $35-$75 that will make a home even safer.
- Replace traditional light switches with easy-to-use, rocker-style switches.
- Install night-lights in hallways between bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Use the highest-watt bulbs possible for fixtures or lamps.
- Install offset hinges on all doors to add 2 inches of width for easier access.
- Replace knobs on cabinets and drawers with easy-to-grip handles.
- Add anti-slip strips in the bathtubs and showers.
- Install a handheld adjustable showerhead.
- Mount grab bars in the bathtubs and showers, and place a sturdy water-proof seat in the shower so your loved one can sit down while bathing or showering.
- Install handrails on both sides of each stairway.
- Place a properly rated fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
Now, I understand that you want to keep the cost as low as possible. You may even get pushback on cost from your loved one if they’re worried about spending your money. Totally legitimate concerns; however, I will not budge on the following issue. You must find a recommended/vetted company or handyman to install these additions. Handrails improperly installed can be worse than no handrails at all.
HIGHER-COST ELDERCARE SAFETY TIPS
Here are just a few options in the higher-cost range that can help keep your loved one in his or her home.
- Install multi-level countertops in the kitchen
- Install pull out drawers for easy access to things like pots and pans.
- Create an entryway to the house that has a ramp with handrails rather than stairs.
If you’re unsure how to find skilled professionals to make these changes, AARP and the National Association of Home Builders have developed a certification program for remodelers and builders focusing on home design and the needs of aging people called the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist. You can find the list here.
If you’re looking for additional resources on eldercare and related subjects go to www.strec.com