A Room-by-Room Guide to Safeguarding Homes for Seniors
Nearly 90% of people age 65 and over want to stay in their family home as they age, according to an AARP study. However, aging in place requires safeguarding homes for seniors to prevent any unnecessary accidents, fatigue or stress.
A Room-by-Room Guide to Safeguarding Homes
Use this safety checklist to help make your home as safe as possible for your parents or senior loved ones during this time:
- Grab bars: Install grab bars around the toilet, tub and shower. Towel racks cannot support an adult’s weight, so do not rely on those to act as grab bars.
- Shower transfer benches: Transfer benches allow you to sit and slide to get in and out of the shower easily.
- Raised toilet seats: Elevated toilet seats that fit directly on the toilet bowl decrease the distance required to sit or stand in order to use the toilet.
- Non-skid mats: Use two high-quality, non-skid mats in front of both the sink and the tub. These should be strong enough to absorb excess water and prevent falls.
- Water temperature controls: Turn your water temperature to a max heat of 120 degrees. This is a safe heat that won’t burn skin.
- Lever-handle faucets: Switch out circular sink and shower faucets for lever-handled faucets, which require less hand strength and are easier to use.
- Bed rails: Bed rails provide a dual purpose — they offer support when getting in and out of bed and prevent falls.
- Reacher sticks: Use specialty reaching sticks instead of step stools to grab clothing or other items on high shelves.
- Dressing aids: SafeWise.com notes that health conditions like arthritis and Parkinson’s disease make getting dressed and undressed difficult. Assistive dressing devices — like dressing sticks, sock aids and shoe horns — help ease that pain and are relatively inexpensive.
- Lighting: To improve visibility and reduce eye strain, light switches should be installed at each entry point, nightlights should be regularly spaced throughout the room and separate lights should be installed over the oven and sink.
- Automatic shut off ranges: Gas ranges should have an automatic shutoff function, and anything that could easily catch fire — like curtains or the paper-towel dispenser — should be placed away from the range.
- Pull-down shelves: Cabinets and their contents should never be difficult to access. Pull-down shelves make it easier to access deep cabinets or cupboards.
- Finger-safe garbage disposal: Disconnect the garbage disposal to avoid accidents. If you want to keep the garbage disposal, a finger-safe garbage disposals will run only when the cover is snapped into place, keeping hands and other objects safe.
- Bare floors: Remove throw rugs from the floor that could cause a bad fall. Falling is the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tripping over clutter can also be dangerous, so keep the floor minimalist.
- Non-slip floor surfaces: Non-slip floor surfaces help reduce the risk of falling. The National Aging in Place Council offers several flooring options that are non-slip and easy to maintain.
- Stairless entrance: Lifting a leg over a threshold can be difficult, so consider installing a ramp instead.
- Lever-handle doorknobs: Switch out circular doorknobs for lever handles, which are much easier to use.
Remaining in a familiar environment can play a positive role in your happiness and health. Take a few precautions to safeguard your home, so you and your loved ones can enjoy it longer.
About the Author
Sage Singleton is a freelance writer with a passion for literature and words. She enjoys writing articles that will inspire, educate and influence readers. She loves that words have the power to create change and make a positive impact in the world. Some of her work has been featured on sites like MSN, Huffington Post, Bustle, Paste and Babble. In her free time she loves traveling, reading and learning French.
Do you have any other suggestions for safeguarding homes for seniors that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.
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