Easy and Affordable Modifications to Help Seniors Stay Safe at Home

A recent survey by Freddie Mac found that “nearly two-thirds of older homeowners want to remain in their current home.” There’s a natural human desire for independence regardless of one’s circumstances, and elderly people are no exception. 

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Unfortunately, more than a third of all seniors age 65 and older fall each year, which can make it difficult for many to justify independent living. It can be terribly painful for older adults who suddenly have to give up a home that’s full of memories and an irreplaceable source of personal comfort.

Aging in place means making adjustments to your surroundings so you can remain in your home. Staying in your own home can help prevent depression, the likelihood of which increases with age. Fortunately, there are many simple modifications that can make it possible for you to remain independent and living on your own terms. 

Start with Your Bedroom

You spend a lot of time in your bedroom, and not just for sleeping. If your room is cluttered or difficult to navigate (especially in the dark), be sure to clear it out so it’s easier to move around in.

If your bed is at a height that makes it difficult to safely get in and out of, lower or raise it accordingly. It also may be time to invest in a new mattress, especially if you haven’t replaced it in the last seven years.

Be sure to look for one that complements your sleeping style; this ensures that you’ll not only sleep comfortably, but you’ll get the physical support you need so your spine is in a healthy position each night, which will help alleviate any joint or back pain you may be experiencing.

Identify Potential Causes of Falls

It’s important to identify any potential trouble spots in your home that need to be modified to prevent the possibility of a serious fall. Some of the more obvious tripping hazards include carelessly-placed furniture, slick surfaces, stairs, and pet accessories, such as water and food dishes.

No-slip surfaces and well-placed and secure handrails are essential anti-slip modifications that are easy to make. Clutter is a chronic safety hazard, which is why your living space must be easy to walk through without obstacles.

The Bathroom

The CDC reports that nearly a quarter of a million accidents take place in the bathroom each year, with such injuries increasing the older people get. A significant number of bathroom injuries among the elderly take place around the toilet, making the bathroom ground zero for safety modifications aimed at keeping seniors safe from injury.

Key safety precautions include raising the height of the toilet and installing grab rails alongside to help improve access. Install rubber, no-skid mats wherever needed, including in the shower and in front of the bathroom sink, another common site of falls.

Above all, a no-skid surface should be installed on the floor of the shower or bathtub. If necessary, have a curbless or zero-edge shower emplacement installed as well as handrails to minimize the likelihood of falls in the shower.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is another potential danger area for seniors, with falls and cuts being among the most common injuries. Pull-down shelves and lowered countertops can reduce the risk of dropping something heavy while you’re cooking.

If standing for extended periods of time is a problem, modify your food preparation space so you can sit at the counter with room for your legs underneath. Easy-grip faucets can also help keep you from losing your balance when leaning over the sink.

Don’t overlook the value of brighter lighting when it comes to kitchen safety. Consider installing a larger and brighter light source if your kitchen doesn’t get very much natural light.

Technology and Ready Access

Technological modifications, such as a stair lift or intercom system, can be expensive, but may be necessary if your mobility and personal safety are an issue.

If you or a family member is in a wheelchair, it may become necessary to install a wheelchair ramp to improve external access. Make sure hallways and doorways are wide enough to accommodate anyone in a wheelchair or with mobility assistance devices such as a walker or cane.

Look carefully through your home for potential danger spots and modify accordingly. Many home modifications are easy and inexpensive to make. Some come down to common sense, such as installing grab rails in a shower or bathtub.

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