4 Tips for Making your Elderly Loved One’s Home Safer

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2030, the United States, for the first time, will have more 65-and-older residents than children. Millions of Americans are living longer and leading more active lives. But living longer and more actively doesn’t necessarily mean that elderly individuals are living in safe and maneuverable homes. It is not surprising that an “aging in place” marketplace has sprung up in the last several years that focuses on home safety and accessibility for seniors and the elderly. As the aging process intensifies joint stiffness and effects balance, injuries related to falls become more likely. Arthritis may hinder the ability to manipulate door handles and light switches. Studies overwhelmingly indicate that elderly persons prefer to remain in their own homes until they die or for as long as conceivably possible. Just a few home alterations can give you and your loved ones some added peace of mind. If you would like to help your aging relative age in place by creating a safe and accessible environment, here are four tips to lessen the likelihood of household mishaps.

Remove rugs from the floors.

Even the most nimble among us can get tripped up on a throw rug. Rugs become a major hazard when they lie on a slick surface such as linoleum or tile. Also, the transition from one type of floor surface to another (like carpet to tile) creates perfect conditions for a fall. People love their scatter rugs. They give warmth and can pull together the decor in the room. But they are not elderly friendly and they have perilous consequences.

Install grab bars in the bathroom.

Grab bars have come a long way from the institutional style mounted in hospitals and public bathroom stalls. A residential contractor or aging in place specialist can recommend modern and elegant grab bars for shower and toilet areas that will blend in with the current style and color scheme. Proper placement of grab bars is important for comfort, safety and accessibility so hire a professional to ensure proper installation.

Conduct a thorough inspection of stairs inside and outside the house.

Even if they are sturdy and appear safe, as the number of stairs increase, so does the likelihood of a bad fall. If your elderly relative is experiencing balance issues, entering and exiting the home by way of stairs is an accident waiting to happen. A ramp can go a long way toward preventing a fall. Your loved one will have no problem choosing a ramp that blends well with the outside features of their home. Check with local elder service organizations; they may build a ramp for free.

Add LED lights where needed and replace regular light bulbs.

Proper lighting is perhaps the most important safety feature in an elderly person’s home. Studies show that after age 40, the ability to adjust to darkness begins to diminish. Well-lit hallways and bathrooms are a must for aging safely in the home. There are lights to illuminate the toilet and motion-senor lights. An LED light lasts about 80,000 hours while a regular light bulb only lasts about 10,000 hours. Switching out the bulbs now will put off for a long time your relative’s attempt to climb a ladder to change a bulb.

When researching aging in place safety recommendations, rugs, grab bars, stairs and lighting are cited most often as matters of concern in an elderly individual’s home. Fortunately, these are modifications that can be addressed easily and inexpensively. While visiting your loved one, look around for other areas in the home that need improvement. Making these changes will ease your mind and give your relative a feeling of confidence and control as she goes about her day.

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