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8 Ways Seniors Can Make their Home Elderly-Friendly

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Date : January 02,2014
By : Michael Joseph

In today’s world of rising costs, especially of assisted living or service-enriched environments for the elderly, the focus of individuals with elders in the family, and of the U.S. government too, has in recent years, been to encourage efforts to help seniors to remain in their own homes or to ‘age in place’. It was, in fact, the reason for the announcement, in December 2012, of theU.S. Housing and Urban Development Department’s $26 million in grants for the purpose. Carol Galante, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner says,“We’re getting older as a nation and with that demographic shift, there is a growing demand for affordable housing that will allow our seniors to live independently in their own homes,”
While not everyone is covered by this program, there are many creative adjustments and affordable solutions that can be made in the home environment to make it safe and secure for seniors. Here are some simple and inexpensive ways which will help.

Safety is of primary importance but comfort is also welcome!

    1.  Since the elderly are more likely to suffer from falls, the first thing to do is to tackle the flooring. Slip-resistant flooring or wall to wall carpeting with thick rugs that can cushion a fall and reduce the risk of injury is something that cannot be overlooked. While throw rugs may look nice they are a definite hazard. Keep all doorways and entrances threshold-free as well, to prevent any tripping. Also consider the widening of doorways, in case the necessity of using a wheelchair crops up at some later date.

    2.  Then there are the staircases which are particularly dangerous for the elderly because of reduced vision and mobility. Anchoring handrails securely along the staircases at appropriate height will give them a sense of security. Don’t forget to prominently brighten the tread edges on the staircases to make it easy for dimming eyes to discern. You might also like to consider installing a stair lift or chair if it is feasible and within your budget.

    3.  A far better option for the elderly however, would be to consolidate the living space into a single-level instead of the split level arrangements that are fine when you are younger and fitter. This will not only be safer for the seniors but less strenuous as well.

    4.  Bathrooms are the biggest culprit, so go ahead and remodel yours so that it does not become a death-trap! Bathtubs are a no-no! Replace them with walk-in showers that have sitting arrangements. Get safety hand-grabs or grips professionally installed alongside the toilets as well as in the shower. It goes without saying that the bathroom floor should be slip-resistant. Also don’t forget to install faucets with single-handle levers. These are easier for shaky hands to manipulate and will prevent the chances of scalding. Also color-code the faucets to indicate which is hot and which cold.

    5.  The necessity of good lighting arrangements cannot be overstated. Prevent unnecessary glare by using incandescent light bulbs instead of fluorescent ones. And keep the main traffic areas, indoors as well as outdoors, always well-lit.Use illuminated light switches that can be found in the dark and make sure to install them low down on the walls for easy access, even by someone in a wheelchair. Have night lights installed strategically and, for better effect, get motion sensors installed all over the home. Pay special attention to lighting arrangements at the main door and on the porch. There is no substitute for natural daylight during the daytime, but control unnecessary glare that may come in by the judicious use of blinds and other window treatments.

    6.  Strengthen your home’s insulation so that drafts will not become a cause for concern. You can do this by beefing up the insulation of the walls, roofing and doors and windows. It would be to your advantage, long term, to invest in energy-efficient replacements of doors and windows especially. Try windows with the Comfort365 glass that Champion Windows manufactures, or any other that has the Energy Star label. Not only will they provide a greater degree of comfort by preventing drafts, they are also tougher and more secure with their multiple panes and laminated coating.

    7.  Another aspect you cannot forget is to have a strong security system installed against unauthorised break-ins and unscrupulous elements. You could install an intercom and for additional safety, a medical alarm or senior alert system, which will help a senior summon help, if necessary, when alone at home.

    8.  Finally, one important aspect which is absolutely essential is to eliminate all clutter from the home. Clutter has often proved to be the reason for broken bones! So make sure that everything has its proper place and that there are no loose ends lying around.

Conclusion

These are just some of the adjustments you can undertake to make your home elder-friendly. There are lots more but these will do to start with. Below are some websites from where you can get detailed information on more senior-friendly home improvement ideas and illustrations.Since none of us grows any younger, it would be in your interest to begin making some of these changes so that you can enjoy your twilight years in comfort and safety.

Get more info from:

American Association of Retired Persons: www.aarp.org
Home Modification Resource Centre: www.homemods.org
National Council on Aging: www.ncoa.org
The AARP Home Fit Guide at homefitguide.org,

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