More seniors are choosing to age in place than ever before. This is partly due to long-term care costs. In addition, the Baby Boomer generation has been privileged to have a more active lifestyle than generations before them, allowing greater health in older years.
Technology and availability of more services, like home care, are also making it easier for older adults to independently remain in their own homes.
Home modification means materially changing a senior’s home to make it easier for them to safely move around. It also involves removing potential hazards to support independent living.
Falls, often resulting in broken bones, are the #1 reason seniors lose their mobility, thus their independence.
To avoid this, home modifications, supporting aging in place, typically address three areas.
Help is Available
Craft Lifestyle Management and Craft Homes, supported by a team of professionals like occupational therapists, have years of experience with home modifications.
We can assist you or a family member in creating a safe space for those choosing to age in place.
We will walk through the home with you and make suggested modifications.
We’ll also introduce you to products and services that will make you and your loved ones feel safer in the home while aging in place.
Our Craft Homes team can make the physical upgrades on your schedule and within your budget.
BONUS: Peace of Mind– Family members who cannot be with their aging loved ones all the time can have peace of mind knowing these modifications will create a safer place for their aging family member.
Basics Modifications You Can Do
Clear Excess in Rooms
Remember, falling is the #1 reason seniors lose their independence.
Ensure each room, including the front door entryway, has plenty of space to maneuver around, especially if your loved one relies on a mobility aid like a cane, walker or wheelchair.
Remove unnecessary furniture. Clear pathways and hallways. Leave plenty of space to move around without bumping into anything.
Remove or Fix Trip Hazards
Rugs beautify space; however, they often are trip hazards. Remove area and other floor rugs or secure them to the floor to avoid slips and falls.
Are there extension cords running across floors? Find another way. Cords are definite trip hazards.
Level uneven areas of flooring throughout the home. Minimize height differences between flooring types to avoid tripping hazards.
NOTE: 1/8” or more is a trip hazard.
Not enough light can increase tripping, thus falls. Too much light creates glare. Make sure the home is well lit, always.
By age 75, most people require twice as much light as the normal recommended standard, and nearly four times as much as a 20-year-old, to see satisfactorily (Dementia Services Development Center – The Importance of Lighting).
Consider putting nightlights in hallways and in bathrooms. Use table or floor lamps in sitting areas and put adhesive counter top lights under cabinets.
NOTE: Changing light bulbs is often risky for seniors. To avoid having to change lights frequently, switch all lights to LED bulbs. Most are rated up to 50,000 hours.
Raise the Toilet Seat
Low toilet seats are a major hazard for falls. Install a raised toilet seat with handles and/or grab bars next to the toilet.
Change the Shower
Install a handheld shower head. These are easier to use while seated or while holding on to a grab bar.
NOTE: Craft Homes can help you install grab bars and other safety equipment and tools to avoid slips and falls. If someone in your family does the installation, for your safety, make sure the grab bar holds up to 250 pounds or more and that it is installed by screwing it into wall studs, not just the sheetrock.
Replace Door Knobs
Arthritis or other conditions that limit motion make using round doorknobs challenging. Replace these with lever-style ones, which are much easier to grip since they don’t require a twisting motion.
More Involved Modifications
Contact Us for an In-Home Assessment
Remember any modification that ensures safety and helps you or your loved one live independently for as long as possible is well worth considering.
Craft LifeStyle Management will work with your time schedule and budget. We will schedule a convenient in-home assessment and begin any modification work when you are ready.
Doorways must be at least 32” wide for a wheelchair to move easily through it but 36” wide to accommodate a turn, like from a hallway into a room.
In addition to the actual widening construction, sometimes light switches and electric wires must be moved.
Pocket doors may be recommended instead. Using pocket doors has two advantages: doors are no longer in the way when open and wheelchairs don’t get caught on hinges.
NOTE: Sometimes just flipping a door to open to the other side is all that’s needed. Every option to create accessibility and contain cost will be explored with you.
Adjust Kitchen Countertops
Regular countertops stand about 34 inches off the floor. Adjusting countertops to 30 inches makes it easier for someone in a wheelchair or scooter to enjoy daily activities like cooking.
Cabinetry with pull out drawers is a real bonus for those wanting to enjoy working in their kitchen longer.
NOTE: Simply lowering a microwave makes a huge difference for independence.
Install Slip-Resistant Flooring
Choose flooring that is soft so bones are less likely to be broken if a fall happens. Also consider installing flooring that is easy to clean and stays clean.
While hard surfaces like wood and stone floors are easier to clean and more sanitary, they have less traction and are just that-hard. Carpet is softer and warmer and provides more cushion if there’s a fall. Yet carpet is more challenging for mobility aids like walkers and wheelchairs.
Engineered vinyl planks may be an ideal option for those wanting a hard surface. They are both easy to clean and hold up well to liquid spills. This flooring looks and feels like hardwood floors. They also have texture so they’re less slippery than real hardwood floors.
NOTE: If you don’t want to replace bathroom tile that’s in great shape, buy ADA approved anti-slip coating and roll it on with a paint roller.
Build a Wheelchair Ramp
If the home is not zero entry, meaning it has zero steps and a minimal threshold, you may need to have a wheelchair ramp built and installed.
The most obvious use of the ramp is for wheelchair accessibility but ramps also eliminate the need to navigate steps, which is often difficult for those with balance issues.
If the home is zero entry, ensure there is a covered entryway to protect you from snow and rain. Regularly have your drainage systems checked. Don’t allow rain to puddle or ice to form by the entryway.
Replace twist faucet handles with levers. Or, install touchless faucets on the kitchen and bathroom sinks for those with arthritis or other grip issues.
Install anti-scald faucets in the bathtub or shower. These prevent sudden bursts of hot water when cold water is diverted due to a toilet being flushed or the washing machine being filled.
NOTE: A simpler way to avoid scalding is to lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees or less.
Replace the Bathtub
A walk-in shower provides much easier and a safer entry than a bathtub. It makes showering independently possible.
If space or budget don’t allow for a walk-in shower, definitely have a safety bar added to the tub and install safety strips.
You can also purchase a bathtub transfer bench, or use a bathtub chair (like the ones attached to this link). Transfer benches are safe and affordable and highly recommended.
A walk-in or siting tub option is also available, though much more costly. These serve as a stand-up or sit-down shower as well as a deep soaking tub.
Move the Bedroom
The bedroom should be on the main floor of the house.
Craft Homes can definitely help you redesign your space to make this happen.
NOTE: Alternatively, you may want to install a chair lift or elevator.
Aging at Home Sample Checklist – Link
© August 2020. Craft LifeStyle Management. All Rights Reserved.
Denise Craft founded Craft Lifestyle Management in 1988 to ease the burden for families of aging, veterans, special needs adults and those in rehab during times of transition. She understands what’s involved in transitioning any individual from their personal home to their next home and to the end of life. Her seasoned knowledge of available placement services, housing options, eligible benefits and payor sources, and community resources is endless.
Please contact Craft LifeStyle Management for all of your transitional needs.
Greg Craft founded Craft Homes in 1980. Since then, he’s been involved in home building, redesign and modification. Contact Craft Homes at PHONE: 402.578.5911 or Crafthomes.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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