Protecting Yourself at Home as You Age 

Getting older comes with many joys. You get to watch your children grow into successful, fulfilled adults, and the pace of your own life slows so it’s easier to savor the moments. But amidst the joys of retirement, there are challenges that can’t be ignored. One of the greatest challenges that aging adults face is the loss of mobility. To make the most of life despite a changing body, it’s important to make changes toward a safer life.

Because the home is where older adults spend most of their time, it’s also the place they’re most likely to become injured. For that reason, preventing injuries and enabling independence starts at home. As HomeAdvisor points out, “For seniors to keep their independence, they must have a safe environment to live in. Safe is a relative term that must factor in a person’s individual needs. Understanding your health, medical conditions and any complications that may arise is the first step to staying in your own home.” While needs vary from person to person, this guide will help you assess your home so you can begin improving its safety.

Safety-Focused Remodeling

Creating a safer home environment commonly requires professional remodeling with a focus on eliminating trip and fall hazards. Stairs at the entry to a home can be replaced with a ramp and high door thresholds lowered. In a multi-story home, seniors can install an elevator or add a bathroom and bedroom on the main floor for single-story living. In the bathroom, where most falls among the elderly occur, install grab bars at the toilet and shower, a curbless shower, and a higher toilet for safer, more comfortable use.

Seniors should factor in the possibility of requiring mobility devices later in life. Wheelchair and walker users need wider doorways and hallways in order to navigate their home — 32 inches at minimum, according to the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. They also benefit from raised electrical outlets and lower switches that can be reached from a seated position.

A good diet is of particular importance in old age, as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explains. Kitchen remodeling enables seniors to cook healthy meals in their later years. Appliances with controls on the front panel eliminate the need to reach over hot burners, while lowered cabinets allow elderly adults to reach supplies without the danger of a step-stool.

Home Layout and Organization

Not all safety modifications require professional assistance. The way a home is organized also impacts its safety and livability. Minimizing furniture and clutter to keep walkways clear and securing area rugs and power cords are important steps in fall prevention.

When it comes to closet and cupboard organization, seniors should store supplies right where they need them to reduce the need to stoop, bend, and reach. Roll-out shelves, lazy Susans, and other types of organizers make storage areas easier to use.

Improving Everyday Convenience

In addition to big changes mentioned above, there are small modifications that can make everyday life easier for older adults. Ergonomic kitchen utensils, D-shaped cabinet pulls, lever door handles, and rocker light switches improve comfort for seniors with arthritis. Installing motion-activated overhead lighting compensates for declining visual acuity. And for home security, a keyless entry system spares seniors’ hands while also protecting their home.

All of these suggestions may have you gripping your wallet in fear. While it’s true that modifying your home for safe aging in place can be costly, it’s a more affordable solution than relocating to a senior living facility — or worse, getting hurt in an unsafe home. Start budgeting home modifications now so you can adapt your home to meet your changing needs.

Image via Unsplash

*Guest article submitted by Michael Longsdon