As aging progresses, mobility becomes a major issue. However, many seniors are unwilling to leave their homes due simply to physical limitations and would rather modify the home to allow for increased mobility and ease of care.
According to the AARP, 85% of individuals aged 55 to 64 express a strong desire to remain in their homes for as long as possible. Interestingly enough, this number actually increases as people grow older. The same survey by the AARP found that 92% of seniors ages 65 to 74 wish to remain in their homes, while over 95% of people 75 and older want to age in place.
What can be done to make a home safer for seniors?
Home renovation costs tens of thousands of dollars. Which many seniors don’t have. Thus, in order to increase mobility within the home and create an environment that makes caregiving more efficient, families should first examine what simple steps can be taken as homecare solutions.
1. Reduce Clutter: Cluttered areas create tripping hazards and reduce the space in which walkers or wheelchairs can be easily maneuvered.
2. Watch for Wiring: Any wires from televisions, floor lamps or portable heaters should be routed and secured along a wall. If cords must be run along a traffic lane of the home, secure them to the ground to reduce the tripping hazard.
3. Remove or Secure Throw Rugs: Throw rugs create a tripping hazard and a slippery surface when placed on linoleum or hardwood flooring. Secure rugs or remove them completely.
4. Turn Up the Lights: A decrease in quality of vision as people become older, makes it much more difficult to navigate dark hallways. Install brighter lights, or add more lighting in dim areas of the house to facilitate less strain on eyes.
5. Install Handrails: Handrails along hallways, or in areas where stairs are present, help seniors navigate what can be difficult walking conditions and also provide a tool for caregivers to help seniors walk with ease.
6. Make Some Space: Leave a small, clear area on a table in a common area for your homecare worker to make updates to their care management software, like ClearCare, throughout the day.
In The Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous areas of the home as people age. Baths and showers create a slippery opportunity for falls, while using the commode requires balance that some seniors may begin to lack.
7. Install Non-Skid Bath Mats: Available at department stores for only a few dollars, non-skid bath mats provide a firm surface for seniors to stand on while bathing themselves, or receiving assistance from caregivers.
8. Buy a Shower Chair: Simple shower chairs give seniors a safe place to rest while bathing, and also make it easier for caregivers to maneuver while assisting clients with bathing.
9. Install a Toilet Seat Extender: Shaped like a standard toilet seat, an extender will raise the seat two to four inches and require less leg strength to sit and stand from the commode. The extra height also causes less back strain for caregivers assisting clients with using the restroom.
10. Keep Medications in One Location: Create a designated space in the medicine cabinet for medication storage. Knowing where medications are will help establish a routine for taking medications and help homecare workers with locating pills for medication reminders.
Taking a few steps, that require little or no investment, will help create an environment that allows seniors to age in place for as long as possible. The modifications will also make the work of homecare services more efficient, as they don’t have to struggle with maneuvering through tight spaces or look for misplaced medications and toiletries.