From contemporary to country to coastal—no matter what your home decorating style might be, it’s important to update your home as you age to be sure it is a safe space. Here are some home modifications to help you live independently as you age at home:
Focus on the bathroom: Updating your bathroom to include grab bars is key—put one near the shower entrance for an easy step in, and install another inside to hold onto while showering. It’s also important to add an anti-scald device to eliminate the risk of being burned by water that is too hot. Older adults have thinner, more fragile, skin, which burns more quickly. Research shows that most home water heater temperatures are set too high, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Rearrange the furniture: Getting older doesn’t mean you need to replace your furniture, but you may want to rearrange your pieces to create appropriate, wide walkways. It’s important to make it simple to pass through each room, especially if you or a loved one starts using a cane, walker or wheelchair.
Assess stairways: Stairs can be a hazard for anyone, but as we age, stairwells become more dangerous. All stairways should have handrails on both sides strong enough to support the full body weight of an adult. Handrails also should extend beyond the last step. This helps an older adult who is stronger on one side than the other to always have the support he or she needs. Be sure to have lights at the top and bottom of staircases. For additional safety, use brightly colored tape to indicate the top and bottom steps.
Get carpet smarts: Remove small throw rugs and large area rugs from floors, as the corners can easily become folded upward and trip an older adult. Instead, opt for wall-to-wall carpeting to provide a soft walking surface with traction, but without the hazardous edges that can lead to a serious fall.
Think about comfort: Redecorating for growing older doesn’t mean you have to replace everything, but you do want to be sure the furniture you currently have is easy to sit down on and get up from, which means not too low or too deep. You’ll also want to make sure all seating has stable arms that are easy to grab a hold of when lowering into. Because it’s easier to bang up our legs around the house as we age, check furniture for sharp edges and corners, and substitute these pieces with rounder options, such as an upholstered ottoman for a traditional coffee table. To keep arthritic hands comfortable, change out traditional round doorknobs for levers or pull handles to make the doors easier to open.
Don’t neglect the outdoors: Even though your main focus is on the home’s interior, you will want to spend some time in the great outdoors too. (They call it great for a reason!) Clear the landscape and any clutter to keep an unobstructed walkway. You’ll also want to be sure that outdoor lighting provides enough light to walk safely in the evening.
Keep style in mind: By now you’ve lived long enough to know exactly what you like, so don’t forget the aesthetics of your home environment when you are making it safer. More and more companies are keeping style in mind when making simple products like grab bars, cabinets, appliances and more. Check out these decorative grabs for the bathroom, and these universally designed kitchen features.
Making home modifications to create a safer environment doesn’t have to break the bank, but it is something you should budget for. If you’re seeking more design ideas for seniors, check out the American Institute of Architects Design for Aging.
Nightingale Homecare of Phoenix, AZ is proud to be certified in home care safety issues. Providing in-home care services in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and Maricopa County, AZ for over 20 years, owned and operated by registered nurses, and therapists who are expert in home safety evaluations, certified by Medicare and licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services, we understand how to work with seniors to help make their home more secure, so they can age in place.
We can help ease the stress and pressure from your family by assisting your loved one with home safety assessment, meals, housekeeping, and personal care, or with skilled nursing services such as infusions, ventilator management, oxygen therapy, wound care, blood draws, and more. Contact us online or call 602-504-1555 for a free demonstration of what we can do to help improve the quality of life for seniors so they can age in the home they love.