Home Modifications For Seniors

People over 65 are at more risk to develop a disability. This results in many seniors moving more than once in their senior years. If you are a senior and you want to age in place, it’s essential to prepare your home for a more comfortable and safe environment.

Inexpensive improvements in your home are easily accomplished by yourself or hiring a contractor. You may not realize of the hidden hazards present in and around your home. It can be helpful to have a home assessment done by a home modification specialist. The following tips will also help to keep your home safe and allow you to live independently and age in place.


Outside The Home

Adding ramps to your home’s exterior is great for wheelchair access but also for seniors that want to avoid climbing steps. Navigating steps can increase risk of falls even with a railing. Indoor threshold ramps can be placed in your doorways inside the home to allow for easier movement from one room to another. Lower door handles and a peephole or view panel. Be sure the view panel is far enough away from the door handle to avoid a security issue.

Home technology that offers remote monitoring will help to monitor movement inside and outside the home as well as your vitals. Adult children can also be alerted in a medical emergency or if someone enters the home but doesn’t exit within a specified period of time. This could indicate they may need assistance. Sensors can be installed in watches, necklaces, bracelets and even shoe insoles. You can control the monitoring systems from your smartphone or a remote control.

If you rely on a walker or wheelchair, it may be necessary to widen your doorway outside as well as inside the home. You will need to determine where insulation, electrical switches and outlets are located before undertaking this modification.

Shrubs should be cleared, pathways made wider without clutter and outdoor lighting improved. Smooth out walkways and paths if they are uneven. Remove moss as it could make the walkway slippery. Trim trees so branches don’t interefere with your walkways. These improvements will help to improve security, accessibility and prevent trips and falls from occurring.


Bathroom Improvements

Many seniors prefer replacing their bathtub with a walk-in shower. It’s easier to enter and exit. A small seat can be built inside the shower for sitting. Install heavy grab bars throughout the bathroom to prevent falls in shower stalls, tubs, floors and near the toilet.

If you want to keep your tub, consider a walk-in tub. It can be used as a tub or sit down shower with the proper extendable shower head. If these modification are not in reach with your budget, a bathtub transfer bench works well. The bench straddles the side of the bathtub enabling you to sit on the bench while getting into the tub.

Install touchless bathroom faucets if you have arthritis or other grip issues. Replace twist handles with levers. Anti-scald faucets are now available which helps to prevent sudden bursts of hot water. Consider lowering the water temperature on the water heater to 120 degrees or less. A heat lamp or an infrared bulb can be installed as an overhead light fixture to keep the bathroom warm.

Add easy-access, waist-height shelving for storage. Place non-slip pads or safety strips on surfaces that get wet. For easy access, install shelving at waist height for storage. Raising your toilet seat will help if you are recovering from injuries or have limited mobility. A raised seat all reduces pain.


Kitchens

Drawers, pullouts and knobs that are easier to grab are great for seniors in a kitchen. It’s much easier to access items without bending down. Install extra lighting so you’re not peering into dark cabinets. Glass doors on your cabinets make it easier to see what’s in them. The items you use most often should be in easy to reach places.

Lower countertops for prepping food or use a tabletop so you can sit while working. Lower the sink and place microwaves in microwave stands for easier access. Your appliances should be lowered or raised up to make them more convenient. The dishwasher can be raised to make loading and unloading easier on your back. If possible raise your oven to avoid bending and make it easier to see inside. Your flooring should be vinyl, linoleum, wood or cork flooring as these are easier on your body when standing and are slip resistant.

A pullout pantry is a nice option as you have easy access to your canned goods and other items. The pullout drawers can be used to store small appliances such as blenders. If it’s in your budget, install counters that are rounded to avoid hitting yourself on sharp corners.

When planning your design, place the sink on the same side of the stove or directly across from the stove. This will help to prevent carrying heavy pots of hot water for longer than necessary. To make it easier to rinse vegetables and wash dishes, keep the depth of your sinks to 6 to 8 inches.


Inside The Home

The following tips can be used to address your needs through the rest of the house:

  • Bedroom
    • Place lights on each side of the bed
    • Install a bed rail to support getting in and out of bed
    • Protect yourself with pillows if headboards have hard edges
    • Install a shelving unit to replace heavy drawers and high bars in closets
  • Hallways
    • Add lighting to hallways
    • Install low rails along the walls
    • Remove loose rugs and have a clear path with no obstacles
  • Other living spaces
    • Add lamps around furniture
    • Replace curtains with blinds to allow natural light into the home
    • Keep cords and wires organized and out of the way
    • Rearrange your home to have your essentials on the main floor
    • Move the master bedroom to the main floor

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