More and more seniors are choosing to stay in their own home longer. According to AARP, 85% of seniors are in their own home and want to stay that way. The term ‘senior’ spans a good 30 years and a house that is perfectly fine for a young senior of 65 may not be safe at 70 or 80. There are many home builders that specialize in building or remodeling homes for seniors with ramps, lower counters and wider doors but there are also many small projects that a handyman or handyson (or daughter) can do to improve the safety in an existing home.
Bathroom – slips and falls abound in this tiled and wet room.
- Install grab bars; one in the tub and one by the toilet. It’s simple, grab bars help avoid bad falls. **Be sure to install safely, nothing is worse then a grab bar failure
- Non slip surfaces; add non skid decals to the bottom of the tub or shower and make sure any bath mats have a rubber backing.
- Consider adding a phone; most heart attacks happen in the bathroom as well as falls, a phone close by might be a life saver.
Kitchen – For independent seniors who are cooking, certain changes can make the chore easier and safer.
- Install sliding shelves in cabinets, or, deep drawers to avoid needing to crawl into the cabinet to get something from the back.
- Upgrade the dishwasher to one that will do top rack only washes so someone living alone can use the dishwasher efficiently. This minimizes time standing at the sink and eliminates handling slippery glasses, knives, and plates.
- Upgrade lighting in the room so accidents don’t happen when cutting etc.
Bedroom – One would think this oasis of rest is safe but there are still ways to be more so
- Arrange the room so there is a place for a sturdy chair or bench to sit on while getting dressed.
- Installing a grab bar by the bed; sitting up too fast can cause light headedness on many heart medications, and, if the bed is too high or low simply getting in or out may be made easier with a safe place to hold.
- Nightlight; a soft glow to illuminate the path to the bathroom to avoid trips or bumps in the dark.
General changes – some safety updates for any room
- Change doorknobs to lever style for easier use
- Clear out clutter, secure chords out of walkways, and make sure there is enough space for a mobility device.
- Update drawer and cabinet pulls with “T” or “U” shaped ones that fingers can easily slip into rather then needing to pinch and pull. This helps with arthritis, and, eliminates knobs getting snagged on loose clothing.
These are all easy changes and with the exception of the grab bars all things that are inexpensive and little or no special skills needed. Spend a weekend making these changes and sleep easier knowing the house is far more safe.