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By: Kent Elliot, Sheltering Arms RehaBlog Guest Contributor
According to the Institute on Aging, seniors are expected to make up 20 percent of the population by 2030, and with more and more people living to age 85 and beyond, there are also more seniors choosing to stay independent in their own homes. Keep reading to learn how you can ensure each room of a senior’s home is a safe haven.
The bathroom is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous rooms in a home, especially for seniors with mobility concerns. In fact, research by the National Council on Aging has found that one in four American seniors will fall this year and that emergency rooms treat an older adult for a fall-related injury every 11 seconds.
A few ways to minimize injuries in the bathroom are to add grab bars and a zero-entry shower. Angie’s List notes that even something as simple as a shower chair will improve bathroom safety. If medications are kept in the bathroom, make sure they are clearly labeled and within reach. A raised toilet seat and non-slip mats will help with balance and lower the risk of falling while sitting, standing, or walking on slippery surfaces.
The kitchen is another hazard zone made safer by simple preparations. Install bright lights overhead and under the cabinets, store heavy items at waist level, and ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are up-to-date with fresh batteries each year.
Most seniors spend a great part of their day in the living room. Make sure it’s safe by eliminating low-lying furniture. Short coffee tables are not only a tripping risk, but can also leave unsightly and painful shin bruises. Consider adding a board under couch cushions to reduce sinking if it’s difficult to stand up from the sofa. Keep cords off the floor and add a table lamp next to a favorite spot to illuminate the room at night and to assist with reading.
Low light and midnight bathroom breaks don’t mix. Make sure the bedroom is clear of clutter, cords, and throw rugs, which can be a tripping hazard at night. Motion-sensor nightlights next to the bed, in the hallway, and in the bathroom will keep pathways lit for easier navigation in the dark. Senior.com further recommends a bed that is at an appropriate level to easily get in and out of, as well as keeping a phone with large-print numbers within reach in case of an emergency.
The dining room poses a unique set of concerns that are mostly centered around the table and chairs. If there are hardwood or laminate floors, add non-slip strips to chair and table legs. Chair cushions will provide a little extra height, which can make it easier to get up and down and will allow comfortable seating throughout each meal.
Oil and other chemicals make a trek to the garage a risky venture for people of all ages. Alert-1 explains that adding traction and cleaning out clutter will go a long way toward keeping you or your loved one safe. Proper maintenance and organization are essential here.
Gardening and spending time outdoors is a healthy part of the aging process, but only when the lawn is maintained. Find a reputable landscaping company that can even out rough terrain and install waist-height decorative fencing along any walking paths. This will add beauty and also provide added support while moving about.
When it comes to home safety, small changes can equal big benefits. Sheltering Arms offers a full array of active aging services specifically designed to help seniors age in place and recover from injuries to safely return home. To schedule an assessment for your unique condition, call (804) 764-1000 or click here.
Kent Elliot is the author of Aging in Place One Project at a Time: DIY Home Modifications That Don’t Require a Professional. After a stroke left him with mobility issues, he thought he would need to move out of his home and into an assisted living community, but with his experience as an architect and a little creativity, he was able to successfully remodel his family home instead. The relief he felt has inspired Kent to help others do the same. For more at-home aging resources, visit Kent’s website here.