Living independently: How to make your home age-friendly
More and more seniors are deciding to age in place, preferring to live independently at home for as long as possible. Sometimes moving in with adult children is a good solution, and other times assisted living makes the most sense. But if you have family and community support, and you can ensure that your home changes along with you and becomes the safe haven you need it to be, aging in place can be wonderful.
Since your needs and abilities change over time, your house needs to follow suit so it continues to be a safe and healthy space. Start by printing out this handy home-safety checklist from Home Instead Senior Home Care to determine how safe your house actually is, and what areas might need improvement.
You’ll be checking for things like tripping hazards, areas that are cluttered, access to a telephones, appropriate lighting, working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, sturdy handrails, slippery floors, etc., all throughout the house. Taking note of areas that need improvement is the first step. Do this annually, as your needs change over time.
Remember, prevention is the best way to reduce falls and other accidents, and there are some simple, inexpensive solutions to help keep you safe and sound:2
- Install handrails and grab bars. Bathrooms are especially great places for them as that’s where most accidents are likely to happen. Check out our article on bathroom safety for tips on making your bathroom safer.
- Reorganize. Put commonly used items on lower shelves or in lower cupboards so you’re not reaching above your head or having to stand on step stools to reach these items.
- Declutter and remove tripping hazards. Ensure there’s always a clear path when you’re walking by removing clutter. Tuck away extension cords along the wall so you don’t have to step over them as you move through your home.
- Remove excess furniture. If a furniture is making small areas difficult to navigate, swap them out for larger, oversized pieces to help give you additional space and more room to move.
- Consider removing throw rugs. Even if they are secured to the floor, throw rugs can still be a tripping hazard. If you decide to keep them, make sure they are well adhered to the floor.
As your mobility changes, you may find other adjustments necessary, like bed rails, stair lifts and ramps, but starting off with a thorough scan of your home and making simple changes to your space to make it safer and easier for you to navigate is a great place to start.
Enlist your family, friends or neighbors to help you make the changes you need. They will be more than happy to help make sure your home is the safe and cozy place it’s always been.
For more home safety tips for seniors, visit Health in Aging.
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