Sunday, December 14, 2008

Making Home Modifications for Seniors

I always thought my parent’s home would be a great place for them to grow older. It’s single level, not too big with plenty of open space and no barriers that I perceived would get in the way of their mobility as they got older. A recent hospital stay left my Mom in a weakened condition and simple things like bathing and getting around the house became difficult for her. With my Mom now in the house alone, I soon realized that there are some modifications that needed to be made.

Thirty-five percent of people sixty-five and older don’t perceive a need to make modifications to their home to ensure their safety. Many of the changes I figured out on my own but I’m finding that it takes an outsider to sometimes point out modifications that can be made to help make life easier for our aging parents.

With my Mom now using a walker until her strength returns, I needed to clear pathways to ensure there was nothing that could cause her to trip or stumble. I quickly removed throw rugs, baskets of dog toys, and anything else that might get in her way.

The biggest problem with the walker was that it wouldn’t fit through doorways. She would “park” it at her bedroom door when entering that room and use the walls and furniture to help with her balance. I knew that could be a disaster waiting to happen.

The first day her physical therapist came, I mentioned that to him. He told me that was an easy fix and just removed the wheels from the outside of the walker and replaced them on the inside. It was a quick fix and something I should have thought of!!!! Oh well, that’s what he’s getting paid for right?

Below are some other tips for modifying your aging parent’s home to ensure their safety:

Lamp Placement Lamps should be place close to the bed or chair for easier reach. Also night lights should be used to light pathways that may be used during the night when it’s dark

Overhead lights Make sure the top and bottom of stairways are well lit and be sure to have switches at the top and the bottom of the stairs

Widen doorways Be sure doorways are wide enough to accommodate any walkers or wheelchairs. If the doorways can’t be widened, see if the walker or wheelchair can be modified to fit. Be sure not to compromise safety making these modifications, always double check with the manufacturer before making them

Light Bulbs Use brighter light bulbs to ensure the best possible lighting

Skid Strips Install skid strips on stairs to ensure no slips occur

Throw Rugs and Carpets Remove throw rugs or use double stick tape to secure carpets and throw rugs to the floor

Faucet Knobs Replace faucet knobs with levers

Small kitchen appliances Place small kitchen appliances on lower tables or shelves for easier access.

Bathrooms Add shower bench and handrails to shower or tub. Install raised toilet seat or place free standing bedside commode over existing toilet to enable easier access to the toilet

Convert Dining Room If bedrooms are upstairs, consider converting the dining room to a bedroom

Some of these modifications are simple no brainers, but making these changes can enhance the living experience of our aging parents. I’m sure most seniors are like my Mom and want to stay in their own home as long as possible living independently. These changes can help extend that time and help them to more easily care for themselves safely.

1 comment:

Jennifer Jilks said...

I would like to link the article on physical aids on a a blog post of mine. I cannot, as clicking on the title of the blog takes me back to your main web page.

As a Canadian, not all of your work applies to my readers, but some does transfer!
Is there a location/URL spot I am missing?