As we age, we become more and more comfortable with what is familiar to us. This can include daily routines, long-held jobs, and even our residences. In fact, 90 percent of seniors prefer to stay in their homes as they grow older, and there is plenty of good reasons for them too. According to the senior care experts at Health Advocates, there are many benefits to seniors ageing in place, including the familiarity of surroundings, the comfort of your own home with your own personal belongings, the ability to remain independent, and the mental health benefits that accompany all of these things.
Increasingly, communities are starting to see the economical and healthful benefits of seniors ageing in place, and as a result, strides have been made to bring healthcare and social care directly to neighbourhoods occupied by seniors. This phenomenon has been termed Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities or NORCs. These programs include transportation, socialization opportunities, arranging home health care, and housekeeping and counselling services.
While these programs may not have made it to your area yet, there are some things you can be doing to help yourself age in place more safely. The primary focus should be making necessary home modifications. You can get a start on this by going to room-to-room with a home safety checklist to see where you need changes. Here are some of the more common fixes.
- Install grab bars in your shower area.
- Consider a walk-in shower/tub or a bathtub with lower access height.
- Replace standard toilet bowls with higher bowls, or even adjustable ones.
- Switch outdoor knobs for levered handles.
- Raise the washing machine and dryer for easier access.
- If you’re still comfortable on the stairs, consider adding a railing to the second side for more stability.
- Install a chair lift if your bedroom and bath are on a second floor and you cannot safely negotiate the steps.
- Replace ceramic tile and another slick flooring with a non-skid floor surface, and be sure to remove area rugs.
- Widen doorways to make them wheelchair accessible.
- Install or build your own ramp for easier access in and out of the home.
- Replace the kitchen sink knobs with a levered faucet.
- Install a flexible shower head so you can use portable seating.
- Remove door thresholds that are easy tripping hazards.
- Install low-maintenance landscaping.
- Install exterior sensor lighting.
- Install cabinet roll-away trays.
- Add task lighting to areas that are utilized most often.
- Install adjustable closet racks and improved lighting.
- If you’re not at risk of seizure, install a strobe light system to serve as a fire alarm, doorbell and carbon monoxide monitor.
- Install a medical alert system.
Remember, it’s important to take an honest and careful assessment of what is giving you difficulties. Perhaps it’s a trip up the steps, poor lighting, or slipping on your current flooring. In some cases, the necessary modifications may require downsizing to a smaller, more manageable living space for economic reasons. If you find yourself wanting the benefits of managing a smaller space, be sure it includes the senior safety features you were missing in your current home.
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