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Keeping Your Senior Happy and Healthy Through Home Modifications

Posted by: maura | April 20, 2018
Keeping Your Senior Happy and Healthy Through Home Modifications

Keeping Your Senior Happy and Healthy Through Home Modifications

By  Lydia Chan of

Many people lose mobility as they age.  However, you can help your senior loved one stay active and independent despite the changes that age brings to his or her body.  Make appropriate home modifications to improve quality of life for your senior and peace of mind for you. 

Think ahead.  Even if your mom or dad isn’t currently experiencing trouble with mobility, Dr. John Connolly of Aging Care recommends taking preventative measures rather than waiting until there is an incident or until your senior is struggling.  By making home modifications in advance, you ensure that your loved one can remain self-reliant longer, prevent injuries, improve mobility, promote safety, and enhance convenience and comfort.  Think in terms of creating an environment that encourages independence rather than focusing on physical limitations.

Evaluate the home.  In order to ensure your loved one’s safety now and in the future, take a good look at the home.  You want to create an environment that is preventative by reducing your senior’s risk for injury.  Increased accessibility allows your senior to remain fully engaged and comfortable in daily life.  When visiting your senior loved ones, notice how they move around their home and any issues that may lead to injury.  You may also hire a senior care nurse to conduct a thorough home assessment for your loved one. Coastal Home Care nurses are trained to identify risk factors in home settings and will recommend preventative measures to keep your loved one as independent as possible for as long as possible.

Prevent falls.  One of the most important elements in ensuring your senior’s well-being is fall prevention.  The National Council on Aging reports that one quarter of America’s seniors suffer fall-related injuries each year.  By making appropriate home modifications, you can accommodate your loved one’s physical limitations and improve mobility. 

Preventing bathroom injuries.  Water plus slick surfaces makes for high fall risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that bathrooms are the primary area for senior falls.  Consider these suggestions for reducing your loved one’s risk in the bathroom:
● Install raised seats on toilets or replace them with specialized units. 
● Install grab bars.
● Install a transfer seat in the bathing area.
● Install non-slip flooring.
● Replace faucet controls with lever-style handles. 
● Re-hinge the bathroom door to swing out instead of in to allow wheelchair accessibility.
Coastal Caregivers are trained to assist individuals having a fall risk in getting into and out of the bath or shower. This is often a more comfortable task to be done by a professional caregiver than by a family member.

Throughout the home.  Remove hazards throughout the rest of the living area and improve accessibility to keep your senior safe.  Here are some suggestions:
● Eliminate throw rugs and loose carpeting.
● Replace door knobs with lever-style handles, as levers are easier to manage.
● Ensure door frames allow at least 32” of clearance to ease access with a wheelchair or walker.
● Clear walkways of obstacles, such as books, magazines and furniture.
● When rearranging, don’t move things so dramatically that you make areas feel unfamiliar to your senior.
● Bundle, tape down or otherwise secure wires and cords.
● Move often-used items to easily-reached areas, such as lower cupboards and shelves.
● Improve lighting and ensure walls and floors are finished in a way that doesn’t create glare.
● Add self-adhesive lights under kitchen cabinets to improve visibility for food preparation.
● Install anti-scald faucets.
● Improve general visibility with strongly contrasting colors, especially for grab bars and changes in countertop heights or other elevations.
● Ensure the entryway to the home is free of steps.  Consumer Affairs experts suggest installing a ramp even if your mom or dad isn’t using a walker or wheelchair, since it is easier to navigate than stairs. 
● Encourage your loved one to wear a medical alert device. 

Home sweet (and safe!) home.  Ensuring your senior loved one ages comfortably and safely is a key to improving quality of life.  Some basic home modifications can prevent injury and allow your senior to remain independent.  Enjoy peace of mind by making these simple but important changes.

The following articles were used in this writing:

Home Modification and Universal Design for Elder-Friendly Living, Dr. John Connolly of Aging Care

Home Modifications Increase Senior Safety, Chris Moore of Solid Rock Enterprises

What is a Home Safety Assessment for the Elderly? by Steven Mott

Fall Prevention Facts by the National Council on Aging

Bathroom Injuries by the CHC

Aging in Place Home Modifications for Seniors by Jonathan Trout of Consumer Affairs

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