Aging in place is often an important step for seniors who want to maintain their independence. It means they don’t have to worry about a nursing home or assisted living stay and can enjoy retirement in the comfort of their own house. But with that can come a host of safety issues that include falls, accidents in the kitchen, and an inability to get up and down stairs to a bedroom or bathroom. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to make your home as safe as possible from room to room. This is especially true if you have existing health issues or are anticipating mobility problems.
Fortunately, there are several simple changes you can make to your home in a DIY capacity. Even the bigger jobs can be tackled with ease if you know where to look for grants and the right contractor. Think about what your current needs are and what they might be in the near future. Will they change? If so, you may need to consider large-scale changes, such as installing ramps or chair lifts or widening doorways to accommodate mobility equipment.
Here are a few things you might want to think about when you’re ready to age in place and make safety modifications to your home.
One of the easiest–and most cost-effective–ways to prevent falls and injuries is to declutter your home. Having lots of items sitting around your house can be detrimental not only to your physical health but also to your mental health, causing anxiety and stress. Go through each room with a friend or family member to help, and start decluttering. Get organized and pack up items you no longer need or want to be placed into storage. An inexpensive 5×5 unit will likely be the best value in Salt Lake City, Utah, costing an average of $33.50 at Safe Harbor Storage.
Update the bathroom
Many seniors find that they need a little extra help in the bathroom in order to stay safe. There are several inexpensive ways you can update this space in order to prevent any issues. Installing a grab bar beside the toilet or in the shower, adding a non-slip rubber mat to the floor and to the bottom of the tub, and adding lighting solutions are all great starts that won’t break the bank. If you want to go bigger, think about taking out your current tub and adding a step-in shower. This removes the “curb” of the tub, and allows you to get in and out with ease. You can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,300 for a step-in shower.
Wear the right shoes
Many seniors don’t realize the importance of wearing the right shoes around the house; not only do they help with comfort, but they also assist in preventing falls by adding a sturdy cushion on the foot. Go to your local shoe store to have your foot measured. Then, look for the right pair for your needs. If you are living with diabetes and have nerve damage, your shoes will also protect your feet from unseen dangers.
Use paint and lighting to your advantage
The right lighting can help you stay safe at home. It improves your ability to see furniture and other trip hazards clearly. Think about adding illumination to stairs, dark hallways, closets, and the bathroom. You can also paint certain walls a contrasting color to help objects like the sink and toilet stand out. This will make things much easier for you if you have a vision impairment.
A personal care agency or an adult day care center may help your loved with the additional support they need to stay safe and comfortable in their own home. In-home care providers offer one-on-one non-medical support in a person’s home which allows them to stay safely at home while under the care of a professional caregiver. Professional caregivers provide assistance 24/7 with activities of daily living, personal care, companionship, night care, and respite care for family caregivers.
Adult day care centers provide comprehensive activities specifically focused on all stages of memory loss in a safe, nurturing environment. Seniors can enjoy games, nutritious food, fun activities, and socialization with their peers while family caregivers get the break they need.
Aging in place can be an ongoing process rather than one project. It’s important to start with a good plan and work out a budget from the start. Think about the most crucial changes for your needs. Then, ask friends and family members for help to turn them into a reality.
Contributed by Lydia Chan. Lydia is the co-creator of Alzheimerscaregiver.net, a website that aims to provide tips and resources to help caregivers. Her mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Lydia found herself struggling to balance the responsibilities of caregiving and her own life. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experiences with caregivers and seniors. In her spare time, Lydia finds joy in writing articles about a range of caregiving topics.