More seniors are looking to age in place, meaning staying in their lifelong homes and familiar neighbourhoods rather than moving into a retirement community or assisted living facility. As they age, they’ll need assistance to ensure their residences stay safe places to live. These five home solutions for seniors and the elderly can make life a little easier.
Outdoor falls are common when surfaces are uneven. Exterior stairs can pose an obstacle for seniors who are unsteady on their feet or have balance issues. Installing ramps is a necessary home solution when a senior wants to maintain a certain level of independence. A licensed accessibility contractor can build and install a ramp with the correct rise and height, working with the mobility needs of the senior and the existing entryway.
Accessible Showers & Bathtubs
A senior who wants to age in place should seriously consider home modifications in the bathroom, particularly those related to the tub. Replacing the bathtub with a walk-in or roll-in shower provides easier and safer entry and exit than a bathtub.
If a senior wants to keep their existing bathtub or stay within a budget, they can make inexpensive modifications that go a long way in preventing slips and falls. Adding a safety bar on the shower wall and grip strips to the bottom of the tub are simple ways you can make a bathroom safer for seniors to use.
The Right Flooring For Their Needs
A helpful solution – one that’s necessary if there hasn’t been an update to the home in a few decades – is changing the flooring. You and your loved one can make the right choice after evaluating the existing floors and the homeowner’s level of mobility. If the carpet is an older, shaggier variety, they may consider replacing it with new carpeting with a shorter nap (the fibres that make the surface). Shorter-nap carpeting is less likely to trip up seniors, and it can also allow the movement of mobility assistive equipment like wheelchairs and walkers.
Hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl floors pose fewer obstacles for maneuvering a wheelchair, but they are also more slippery. Homeowners will often use throw rugs on these smoother types of flooring, so be sure that you either get rid of them or secure them with tape to reduce the tripping hazard.
Brightening The Home
One home problem often overlooked with age is lighting. As we age, the muscles in the eyes weaken, and our pupil sizes decrease, meaning less light can enter the eye. Most people aged 75 and over need twice as much light as what’s recommended to see adequately – and nearly four times as much as someone who is 20 years old. Brighter, cooler lighting, task lights, and better light controls provide seniors with a clearer view of their surroundings.
Many assistive technology solutions exist that don’t require permanent changes to the home but help keep seniors safe. These can help a more independent-minded person stay safe as they age and are especially helpful for seniors more resistant to changing their surroundings. They include medical alert systems, smart home monitoring programs, and assistive seating devices.
Being proactive about modifying the home helps seniors get the solutions needed to age in place before they need them. If you have a loved one who prefers to stay in their home, these solutions will give you peace of mind, too – your family or friends will be safer in their homes!