Nearly 90% of people age 65 and older want to stay in their own homes as they age, or “age in place.”
Outfitting a home with simple renovations can be a cost-effective alternative to paying monthly expenses at senior living centers. A basic assisted living facility can cost $43,000 a year, while a home remodel could save a few thousand dollars.
Safewise recently compiled this safety checklist to help guide improvements, room by room.
Close to 200,000 accidents occur in the bathroom every year and account for many injuries. But, a few easy upgrades can help to prevent their occurrence.
- Grab bars. Install grab bars around the toilet, tub, and shower. Towel racks cannot support an adult’s weight, so it’s important to ensure the bars you install, can.
- Shower transfer benches. Transfer benches allow older adults to sit and slide to get in and out of the shower easily. And, they offer a place to sit if the person becomes dizzy or faint while showering.
- 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, to keep the floor from becoming slippery.
- Lever-handle faucets. Switch out circular sink and shower faucets for lever-handled faucets, which require less hand strength and are easier to use.
- 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. Even better: install motion detectors to enable lights to come on when a person moves in the room.
- Automatic shutoff. 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 disposal will run only when the cover is snapped into place, keeping hands and other objects safe.
- Bed rails. Bed rails provide a dual purpose—they offer support when getting in and out of bed and prevent falls out of bed, during the night.
- Reacher sticks. Use specialty reaching sticks instead of step stools to allow older adults grab clothing or other items on high shelves, without balancing on stools or step ladders.
- Dressing aids. Health conditions like arthritis and Parkinson’s disease make getting dressed and undressed difficult. Assistive dressing devices— like sock aids, shoe horns, and dressing sticks—can help ease that pain and are relatively inexpensive.
- Bare floors. Remove throw rugs from the floor that could cause a bad fall. 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 Counciloffers 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 aging adults’ health and happiness. By taking a few of these precautions, they may be able to stay in their home even longer.