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When your loved one starts to age, it's crucial to ensure their living environment is safe, comfortable, and supportive of their changing needs. Unfortunately, many older homes aren't created with accessibility in mind, making it difficult for seniors to navigate the space safely.
A workshop focusing on design features of accessible housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities found that 72 percent of households with a member using mobility equipment don't have access to an elevator and live on the ground floor. This can impact the quality of their life and make it challenging to engage in their community.
The good news is you can take on a renovation project and make a few changes to your home to accommodate your loved one. Home modifications can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and promote independence among seniors.
Declutter for a Clear Pathway
Seniors with mobility issues or impaired vision face difficulties navigating a space cluttered with furniture and objects. This can make it difficult for them to access some areas of the home and potentially lead to injuries.
Declutter your home by clearing pathways and removing items that might be in the way. For instance, it might be helpful to place furniture in corners and place loose cords under rugs to reduce tripping and falling. Encourage your loved one to part with non-essential items or store them safely in cabinets or closets.
Consider a Stairlift
As mentioned earlier in this blog, many homes don't have an elevator, requiring seniors and individuals with disabilities to reside on the ground floor. Stairs can also be particularly challenging for seniors with mobility issues or joint pain. Although it isn't possible to install an elevator in every home, there is an alternate solution that allows people to navigate the house efficiently.
Investing in a stairlift can be a game-changer, allowing your loved one to effortlessly navigate between floors without the risk of falls. Stairlifts are relatively easy to install and can significantly improve your loved one's independence.
Boost Bathroom Safety
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous areas for seniors or people with limited mobility. The slippery surfaces can lead to falls and injuries, making the space difficult to use independently. Prioritizing bathroom safety by making modifications can reduce this risk and help your loved ones comfortably and independently use the area.
You can make your bathroom safer by purchasing accessible products from a reputable company. Making a bathroom safer for seniors involves incorporating accessible bathroom products and thoughtful design choices to reduce the risk of slips, falls, and injuries. You can replace traditional bathtubs with walk-in showers with low thresholds or built-in seats. These designs eliminate the need to step over high tub walls, reducing the risk of accidents.
Another crucial component of an accessible bathroom is grab bars near the toilet, bathtub, and shower to provide stable support for seniors while sitting down, standing up, or moving around. These bars should be securely anchored to the wall to withstand the user's weight.
Optimize Kitchen Safety
The kitchen can be a hazardous place if not adapted for senior safety. According to the American Burn Association, "adults >65 are at much higher risk of injury and death from a kitchen fire due to physical, visual, hearing or mental impairments that may slow the quick action necessary in a fire emergency."
It's important to optimize kitchen safety by investing in a stove with large, visible controls, and consider installing an automatic shut-off feature for the cooktop to prevent accidental fires. You may also want to consider frequently organizing used items within easy reach, avoiding the need to stretch or bend excessively.