The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has stated that approximately 8,000 people will turn 65 every day through 2030. This means that many older adults will be living longer, and many want to stay in their own homes as long as possible. This is a trend AARP calls “aging in place.” However, homes can represent unexpected safety hazards that must be evaluated through the eyes and abilities of the elder.
There are several things to consider as you evaluate how to make your home safe and easy to navigate through old age.
Entry and Exit
Look at the accessibility of your home, specifically entryways from the exterior as well as access to multiple levels and even ease of movement room to room. Your home may need accessibility improvements such as stair lifts, elevators or adjustments to the width of doors and removal of thresholds to allow easy entry and exit.
Consider bathroom alterations, such as walk-in or roll-in tubs or showers rather than a traditional bathtub. Built-in shower benches or even adding a shower chair can help seniors feel safe while bathing. Adding grab bars throughout the bathrooms encourage stability. You might also consider modifying toilet and sink height if necessary to accommodate a wheel chair or walker.
In the bedroom, examine the closet for door width and access ease, and consider adding storage at multiple levels inside the closet for easy access. You might also consider adjustments to the bed height to make entering and exiting the bed easier for a senior.
Enhancements in the kitchen may include raised or lowered counters and appliances to give easy work access, special faucet controls that can be easily operated and open space under the cabinets for a wheelchair or walkers.
Throughout the interior and exterior of the home, evaluate the lighting. Is it adequate for the senior’s eyes? Adding motion sensor or door-activated lights can minimize the need to search for switches in the dark. Where switches are required, rocker switches are easier than traditional switches. Also, look closely at high traffic areas such as hallways to ensure evenly spaced light that illuminates the natural walk way.
We hope that with some minor modifications, you can increase the safety of your home, reducing potential accidents and the associated liability.