Make a Home Safe for Senior Citizens
With today’s aging population, keeping senior family members safe in their own homes has become a major issue. Falls and accidents often make it difficult for seniors to remain in their homes, but by making several safety renovations, seniors can live independently at home without the fear of getting hurt.
Seniors can quickly fall on an exterior door step if the area is not properly covered and lit. Install a small awning over front and rear doorways to protect the entrance from becoming wet and slippery due to weather. Add a brightly lit light fixture to the exterior wall so that the area is easily visible at night.
Smooth, wet floors can make the bathroom a dangerous room for seniors. It is important that this space be updated to reduce the chances of a fall on a slippery surface. Have bathroom doors open outwards to make room to easily move through the threshold. The doorway should be between 32 and 36 inches wide to accommodate people using walkers or wheelchairs. Lower bathroom cabinets, mirrors, and counters several inches to make it easier to access them from a walker or wheelchair. Install insulation around any open hot water pipes that could burn someone sitting near the sink area. Make sure there is between 30 and 48 inches of clearance space in front of the toilet, sink, shower, and tub. Install horizontal grab bars next to the tub and toilet to make getting up easier. Install vertical grab bars next to the shower to make it safer to get into and out of the stall. Use seat extenders to raise toilet seats raised by a minimum of 17 inches. If possible, have a walk-in tub installed with a sealed door. Have an automatic movement night light installed in the bathroom. Secure area rugs and mats to the floor with two-faced tape.
An ideal kitchen offers a small, compact area where everything can be easily reached. By decreasing the space between appliances, seniors are able to move about more conveniently. Effortless faucets and knobs also make cooking less work and more secure for seniors. Lower level cabinets reduce the chances of items falling due to reaching. Counter space should provide ample room for food preparation. Vinyl and linoleum flooring provide a surface that is easy to clean. Seniors can easily walk or move a wheelchair over these types of smooth, flat floors.
Lower cabinets by several inches to make shelves more accessible. For seniors in wheel chairs, counters need to be between twenty-eight and thirty-four inches high. Ensure that sinks are shallow so that seated seniors can reach dishes on the bottom of the fixture. Place items that are regularly used on the lower shelves. Add baskets and lazy Susan trays to make accessing items from the back of the shelves easier.
Hallways and Staircases
It’s important to keep floors and stairways well-maintained. The chances of falling can be greatly reduced by taking several simple precautions. Remove any clutter or oversized items from the halls and near the stairs. To make movement throughout a home safer, attach colored strips to any areas on the floor where it is necessary to step up or down. Ensure that hand railings are installed along all stairways. Lower any thresholds that are high to prevent chances of tripping. Install extra task lighting in the kitchen, hallways, and bathroom. Have hand-held remote controls for a centralized control center near the bed or easy chair. Add a second light switch so that there is one at both the bottom and top of a stairway. Remove any items that could interfere with movement through a hallway or within a room.