9 out of 10 Americans over the age of 50 want to age in place. After all, there is something to be said about spending your golden years in the house that you have called home for decades.
But most homes that were designed keeping young families in mind are not ideal to age in place. You will have to make some modifications so that you can spend your old age in safety and comfort in the familiar surroundings of your house. Older adults wanting to age in place should make changes to their homes to ensure their safety and comfort. Here is a guide to safe and comfortable aging in place.
As people grow older, they become more vulnerable to illnesses and injure themselves. Nearly 3mn older adults are treated in the ER for fall injuries each year. Therefore, it is necessary to create a safe environment. This is why some people choose assisted living facilities where trained professionals take care of one’s every need.
Aging in place requires changes in your home because traditional homes are not designed to keep older adults in mind. Older adults have weaker muscles and bones, may have difficulty in moving about, might have lower eyesight, poor hearing, lower cognitive functions and memory, essential tremors and difficulty holding objects, and many other problems that require changes so that they remain safe.
Senior Living And Universal Design
Universal design refers to modifications and designs that are functional for people of any age, yet are aesthetically pleasing and don’t look odd or weird.
Such a design means that it is convenient for people of all ages so that the entire family can stay in the house, including older adults. Universal design is essential for seniors who are aging in place. Every aspect will provide the utmost function, convenience, and comfort if the home is modified as per their needs.
To implement a universal design, interior designers and architects need to consider the person’s age, medical conditions, and special needs. This will help them create a home that is the best and the most secure. These home modifications for aging in place can be as simple as installing a few grab bars or as comprehensive as making major modifications across the house. In this one-stop guide, we intend to give you a complete list of modifications by room:
- Bathroom & Toilet
- Living Room
- Kitchen & Kitchen Gadgets
- Lobbies & Pathways
- Managing Stairs
- Garden & Yard
- Laundry Room & Garage
The bathroom is the one place that is most susceptible to wet and slippery floors in the home. You need to visit it multiple times during the day (in fact as you grow old, the frequency increases due to loss of bladder control).
With age, you might not be able to control the urge and may have to reach the bathroom quickly. Therefore, you need a space that is free of obstacles and safe.
Unfortunately, bathrooms can be pretty unsafe, especially for seniors. Consequently, installing features that would make the bathroom safer for elderly people is essential. You can do so in the following ways.
As you grow older, you may not be able to climb into the bathtub due to problems in your knee and hip joints. If you have elderly parents who have knee pains, arthritis, or other such conditions. In that case, they may also not be able to hop into a bathtub.
One good option is to add a walk-in bathtub. Walk-in bathtubs have a watertight door to open and simply walk in, instead of having to jump over the side. Elderly people can easily open the door and walk into the bathtub.
Transfer Benches Near the Bathtub
Another option to consider if your older adults are unable to move into a bathtub is transfer benches. Transfer benches have a very simple operation: the legs fall on either side of the bathtub side. You can seat the older adult on one side, and then slide them over to the other side, without them having to hop over the edge.
Grab bars are essential for older adults, especially in the bathroom. Even if you put in anti-slip mats in the bathroom, it is best to add grab bars so that an elderly person can hold on to them for additional support.
Grab bars should be installed in the bathtub to enter and exit the tub easily. Grab bars can also be installed as steps, which the older adult can use for support to grab onto while standing from the tub.
Apart from bathtubs, grab bars should be installed near the WC for support while standing up, and in fact any place where there might be a chance of slippery and wet floors in the house.
Anti-Scald Valve for Shower
Warm water showers at home are essential for older people who have chosen to age in place, and it is calming and can soothe aches.
However, if the water is too hot it can cause scalding. For a variety of reasons, older adults are more prone to scalding: their epidermal layer is weaker and scalds more easily and they find it more difficult to move out of the water spray when the water is too hot.
An anti-scald valve regulates the temperature of the water and ensures that it does not turn too hot. These valves also help ensure that an adequate volume of cold water is mixed with the scalding hot water to create the right temperature.
If you don’t want to use a bathtub and prefer a shower, you can put it in a shower chair. Shower chairs provide support for your back and have armrests.
An older adult can sit on these chairs while showering. Shower chairs are made of waterproof material and have anti-slip seats, which ensures that the elderly do not slip and fall down while bathing. There are also rubber tips on the chair’s legs to not skid on the floor.
You can complement a shower chair by adding in a handheld shower, which will make it easier for the older adult to bathe.
Apart from these modifications, you should also add a shower caddy (so that all necessary items are within reach while bathing), tension poles (an alternative to grab bars), anti-slip floors, or mats with anti-skid tapes, and asking the elderly to use anti-slip shoes. These features will make the bathroom fall-proof for older adults and allow them to use it conveniently.
While modifications are necessary for the bathing area, the toilet needs to be modified as well. The toilet is an important area of the bathroom, and every person frequents it quite a few times throughout the day. Here are a couple of ways to make the toilet safer for the elderly.
Install a Raised Toilet Seat
Seniors may find it challenging to sit in a normal toilet seat. These seats are usually pretty low, and if someone has joint pain or arthritis, it might be difficult for them to sit. Therefore, it is best to install a raised seat. If the seat is raised to a specific height, the elderly person will not have to bend their legs while sitting. These raised toilet seats also come equipped with handgrips to make it easier to sit and stay steady.
Use a Toilet Safety Frame
Additional support is of utmost importance in the bathroom and toilet. So, you can use a sturdy toilet frame. These frames are fixed over the toilet and have handrails on either side. You or any other older person can use these handrails for sitting or standing up. The frame is permanent and offers adequate support at all times.
There should be anti-skid mats outside the toilet so that it is comfortable to step into the toilet. You can also keep the toilet area free of shelves, caddies, and other accessories so that it is easier to install the frame and move in and out of the toilet.
The bedroom is where we spend most of our time. With age, a senior might always be in danger of being confined to their bed. Therefore you absolutely arrange the bedroom in a manner that it becomes safe for living.
Hospital Beds & Adjustable Beds
Electric hospital beds and their slightly less feature-packed cousins, adjustable beds, are beds whose top portion, the bottom portion, and height are adjustable using manual or remote control. Such beds are useful for people who are confined to bed and have to perform many functions on the bed itself. If your loved one is in such a situation, or you foresee that with advancing age such a situation might arise soon, you should invest in an electric hospital bed.
Bed railings can either be for a safety purpose or else for a support purpose. Safety rails offer protection against accidental falls while your loved one is sleeping and also act as a deterrent against dementia wandering.
If your loved one is prone to either of these problems, you should consider putting them in. Support railings (or grab rails) are useful if the person sleeping in the bed wants to sit up and needs support for doing so.
Bed railings are often paired with bumper pads, which not only help in reducing the chances of entrapment but also give a comfortable edge to the bed.
Mattresses & Mattress Pads
The elderly are more susceptible to several diseases such as arthritis, scoliosis, cervical pain, dementia, MS, skin breakdowns and pressure ulcers, and many others, which cause discomfort when sleeping at night on a normal mattress. Therefore, it is important to select the right mattress for them.
The mattress should have proper support and firmness to ensure that the spine is aligned properly on the surface. They should also be sufficiently temperature neutral so that your loved one is neither too hot nor too cold during the night.
If your loved one is susceptible to pressure ulcers and bedsores, it is suggested to consider a special mattress pad such as a low air loss pad or an alternating pressure mattress pad, which provide for pressure redistribution, keeping the user’s body safe from the buildup of pockets of pressure which lead to these problems.
Fall mats are another great safety device to have on each side of the bed. Fall mats are usually made from high-impact foam, which is meant to reduce the risk of injury in the event of a fall.
Always make sure that the bed is at a height of no more than 23 inches off the ground (from the top of the mattress down). However, even then fall mats are an important safety device and you should have them in place anyway.
Avoid putting tall furniture in the bedroom, such as bookcases, wardrobes, and shelves that are put up at a height. It is very much possible for furniture to accidentally fall and hurt your loved ones, so it’s always better to be safe and sorry
If at all tall furniture is a necessity (and it is sometimes), you can get a licensed carpenter to anchor them to the bedroom walls.
Smaller furniture like nightstands and study tables also need to be strong, because your loved ones might lean on them for support or hold on to them in the case of an accidental fall, and it would be best that they not fall apart at that moment.
It would also be a good idea to put anti-slip mats under your furniture like nightstands, to avoid them slipping in such a scenario. If need be, add fall mats and safety strips across the room to reduce the chances of accidentally slipping and falling.
Also don’t put in area rugs, because they can be very tricky around the corners, a slight fold in one corner or a bump somewhere in the middle can become a potential source of fall. If need be, tape down the corners of the area rugs.
While carpeting is definitely less prone to falls and can also be more effective in reducing damage if an accidental fall does happen, it is also true that carpeting is not a great way for a person with a wheelchair or cane to walk around, since it tends to get stuck in them. Secondly, carpets are high maintenance, since they tend to collect dust and allergens and if they are not cleaned regularly can be a source of diseases.
Try to make sure that every corner and space in the room is lighted with no blind spots, while also ensuring that the light is not too glaring to the naked eye
For specific tasks such as reading in bed, study table, and wearing makeup, add additional lighting on top of the ambient lighting, so that your loved ones do not have to strain their eyes for these activities
The ability to sense contrast and distinguish colors diminishes rapidly with age. Therefore, try to introduce sharper colors and contrasts on shapes such as edges and curbs by painting over them. Avoid bright surfaces and reflective objects such as mirrors that can introduce glare in the room.
Use Touch activated bedside lamps, glow in the dark switches, rocker-style switches, toggle switches to reduce and increase illumination as per need and motion-sensor night lights (esp. under the bed) are all great ideas to improve the lighting for your loved ones and reduce the risk of them bumping or falling due to lack of visibility
Closets are often used by us to store any and everything without giving much thought to organizing them. This can be a possible source of accidents, as there might be objects lying around, or overhead that needn’t be there at all.
Therefore, make sure to declutter the closet regularly. Remove any items lying unpacked on the floor, and take special care to ensure no overhead bags or heavy objects should be present in the closet.
Sliding doors are a lot easier to use for people in wheelchairs. Secondly, turning knobs may be difficult for someone who has arthritic pain in their hands. Make sure the closet is especially well lit in all corners since the closet is the most likely place for an accident in the bedroom.
Ensure that there is access to a phone near the bed, bathroom, and any other place where there is a likelihood of a fall and injury. Make sure that the phone instrument is easy to reach and has a simple display with large characters
An alarm clock with time and date in large, clearly visible numbers and a simple, easy-to-read format is a great addition to your bedroom, especially if your loved one is suffering from the loss of mental faculties or dementia.
Automated window coverings optimize the natural light available in the room based on the time of the day. For example, if the sun is directly beaming into the room, the window coverings would make sure to reduce the glare by lowering the shades. Similarly, when the occupant is not in the house, the shades can be put up for security.
Furniture is an essential factor in safety for elders aging in place. There are multiple factors that one should keep in mind about the furniture. This includes the layout of the furniture and the kind of furniture you want in your home.
Unlike today’s popular culture, comfort should not be the only factor in deciding the type of furniture, especially for older people. Safety should be the first priority. Recliners and soft cushioned couches are favorites of many households.
But getting up out of it becomes increasingly difficult with age and requires uncomfortable postures. It is bad for the bones and joints. Suppose all you have in your house is comfortable furniture. In that case, you need to start thinking about buying new ones that prioritize safety.
Modern Lift Recliners
As recliners are the first choice for relaxation, companies have come up with modern power lift recliners that are elderly-friendly.
These are technologically upgraded products that can automatically adjust postures and be used to lift the person sitting in a near-standing position, which is important if they have mobility issues or back/ankle/knee/hip joint pain.
There are many products in the market with a wide range in price and quality to meet everyone’s needs.
Strong and Sturdy Furniture
Furniture should also be sturdy and strong for making it safer in the house. Older people often tend to lean for support on nearby furniture. If they are not sturdy enough, unwanted accidents can happen. Therefore, you must install furniture that won’t slide or move under pressure.
Try to move out cane, wick, and rattan furniture, especially the smaller pieces. These are not dependable in case someone has to lean on them
Another problem with modern-day sofas is that they are focused on being sleek and stylish, but often end up being weaker in structure and are, therefore, relatively lightweight. With D2C making big inroads in the furniture market, making lighter furniture also makes it less expensive for the company to ship the product.
While that is very convenient for moving and frequent redecoration if you have older people at home, such furniture is not the best option. Such pieces of furniture are more prone to shift on even the tiniest amount of pressure and are therefore totally not dependable to lean on.
So if you are an elderly individual or have seniors at home, it is best to choose secure furniture. This ensures that they do not trip or the sofa does not break under their weight.
Carpets and Rugs
Carpets and rugs are prone to people getting their feet stuck in the corners and falling down. Therefore, if you have area rugs in your living room, try to pin them down to the floor, or else remove them completely.
The other problem with carpets is that they are difficult to clean thoroughly and therefore a den of diseases. You need to do a weekly clean with a vacuum and a monthly deep clean if you have older adults in the house since they are more susceptible to even the most common of viruses and bacteria.
Stick To A Fixed Layout
You shouldn’t change the layout once you find the ideal furniture setting for the elderly in your home. Familiarity contributes to safety (especially if the person has poorer vision or memory problems), and having a fixed layout ensures that they don’t fall or have an accident while moving inside the house.
Electronics and Remotes
As your loved ones grow older they might find it more and more difficult to view a small TV especially if it is in an older format.
Consider buying a larger TV in HD format with finer picture quality. You may also prefer to Wall mount your TV which not only saves space but also declutters your living room making a lot of room available for their wheelchair or assistive devices.
Most modern-day remote controls are atrocious. They have 100 buttons with functions that you will never use in your lifetime.
For an elderly person using such a remote with small buttons and a large number of functions can be a nightmare. Consider buying a simple remote with two or three major functions that your loved one uses on a regular basis and has large buttons with bigger and bolder text that is easy to operate and view.
It is important to have a phone or a device that can easily help your loved one communicate with relatives or friends who live nearby. Consider installing multiple landline phones in strategic locations across the living room, perhaps one at the entry and one near the recliner which your loved one prefers.
Grab bars are one of the most inexpensive yet most useful safety devices available in the market. Consider installing several grab bars across the living room, especially in places where there is a high chance of falls, accidents, or injuries.
You can install them along the walls as your loved ones move towards the washrooms or their bedroom. One can also be installed near the favorite recliner or chair of your loved one so that they can stand up easily.
Every home has a kitchen, and you are likely to spend a few hours at least, especially if the kitchen has an eating area or doubles up as a dining room. There are many hazards in the kitchen for both the elderly and the younger generations.
If kitchens are not kept clean, residents can suffer from multiple diseases and infections. Kitchen floors are not the safest, and if there are no proper storage areas for tools, that can cause cuts and lacerations.
Another issue is the lack of fire alarms in homes. The kitchen is one area of the house that can cause fires frequently, and therefore, fire alarms are necessary.
Now, these are issues that everyone faces. However, the elderly are more prone to accidents. Consequently, you can do the following things to keep the kitchen safe and secure when older adults are staying at home and are aging in place.
Adequate Space for Movement
Kitchen spaces for the elderly need to be large and roomy. They should not have to bump into countertops, cabinets, or other such things when in the kitchen. If there is an island in the middle, adequate space is even more critical.
You should also consider widening the area so that it is accessible by wheelchairs. If there are older adults in your home, they may have to spend some time in wheelchairs, especially if they suffer from any grave injuries. If passageways are leading to the kitchen, make sure there are 42 to 48 inches of space for the wheelchair to move.
You also need to check if there is too much space available. Even if a person who is aging in place is not in a wheelchair, they may need to hold on to something while moving or walking.
So the layout of the kitchen should be convenient to move, but you should also have grab bars or supportive structures on each side so that one can hold on to if you are tired or are in danger of losing balance to avoid accidents.
Flooring anywhere in the house is a priority, especially if there are senior members in the family. One cannot clean particular floors easily, and you should avoid such flooring.
In the kitchen, you are likely to spill something on the floor, and if it stays, then it won’t be easy to clean. If you cannot clean the floors, an elderly person might slip and fall. Therefore, anti-slip floors are a must.
Apart from that, it would be best if you also opted for vinyl, linoleum, or wood floors. These are comfortable to walk on, and wood is convenient for wheelchairs.
When choosing kitchen floors, never place carpets or rugs. These may look good on the floor but are actually quite dangerous for people, especially seniors. An older person may slip on the floor or trip on rugs. Therefore, keeping the floor clear of such decorative items is best.
Heating and Cooling Systems
It is crucial for you to understand the temperature changes within the kitchen to make it a comfortable space for seniors. When you are cooking in the kitchen, the temperature will increase. Therefore, it will be warmer than elsewhere in the house.
Now, suppose an older adult is cooking or is in the kitchen. In that case, they may feel lightheaded and even faint in humid conditions. This is quite dangerous.
Therefore, it is best to install proper cooling systems. A cooling system will control the temperature and get rid of fumes and humid air from the kitchen.
You can also invest in a heating and cooling system. These systems ensure that a pleasant temperature is maintained to be comfortable to spend a considerable amount of time in the kitchen.
It is best not to have doors in the kitchen and keep an open floor plan. However, you need to change the hinges even if you have doors.
Use loop handles on doors to offer better grip and install these on doors of cupboards and cabinets. You should also remove door curbs as they can make walking difficult.
Every kitchen is going to have cabinets. But for older people in your home, these cabinets need to be accessible and convenient to use. So apart from installing loop handles, you also need to make sure that they are at a proper height.
If the cabinets are too high up, they will be difficult to reach and may affect the hip or back of a senior trying to reach for something. On the flip side, if you have cabinets that are too low, these might cause problems in the back or knees while stooping down.
You should try to ensure that the most commonly used utensils and objects should have a space on the kitchen top itself so that the elderly don’t have to lean or reach up.
You should change your shelves to pull-outs or drawers so that it is easier to open them (rather than having side-opening drawers with knobs that are difficult to hold onto). Such cabinets are easier to use and close well, and they won’t jut out and cause accidents.
When designing a kitchen that will be safe for older people, do not opt for countertops all at one height. If you ensure that sections of the countertop are at different heights, one can sit or stand while working in the kitchen.
For example, you can have a section of the countertop where they can do their vegetable cutting and chopping while sitting down, while the main cooking range can be at a standing height.
If your elderly parents are in a wheelchair, then you need to make sure that the countertop is at a wheelchair-appropriate height.
Try to take out metal knives and forks that are sharp and pointy with plastic ones that are designed with blunt edges and are less likely to cause an accident.
If the older person has Parkinson’s or essential tremors, you should look at buying utensils that are specially designed to be easier to eat with (such as curved spoons and cups with dual handles)
Here are a few tips to improve lighting in the kitchen which can be a major source of accidents and falls:
Firstly install a lot of ambient light across the kitchen and add a layer of task lighting in specific areas where additional lighting may be required, such as under the cabinet or below the cooktop and any other blind spots.
Secondly, change your normal light switches to rocker switches or else just switch over entirely to motion sensor-enabled lights which will make sure that the lights are always on when somebody is in the kitchen.
Lastly, make sure to regularly check all bulbs and switches for faults and also any loose electrical wiring that may be a cause of kitchen fires if not attended to properly.
Make sure that the sink is not too deep so that the user does not need to bend over too much in order to use it. Also, consider using faucets that are styled like levers instead of the ones that look like knobs.
Knobs are difficult to operate for people who have lower dexterity in their hands. You might also consider installing motion-enabled faucets which are great because not only do they not require any intervention by hand but they also help in conserving water and are sure to turn off when nobody is using them, unlike normal faucets which one might forget to turn off.
Having a hand soap dispenser near the sink is another useful touch. make sure that the water that comes from the sink is neither too hot nor too cold. You can ensure this by installing an anti-scald valve
Oven and Cooktop
A cool thing you can do with your oven is to make it wall mounted. This way not only do you avoid your loved ones from having to bend over or reach every time, but you also end up saving a lot of space in the kitchen.
When buying a cooking range for seniors, always prefer a Cooktop over a normal range. Cooktops are not only more stylish, they tend to cool down very quickly which is a great feature, and they are also in line with the countertop so that transferring your dishes from there to the counter is a lot easier and much less accident-prone.
There are several self-cleaning options also available these days, and that might be just the perfect cherry on the top that you need. Make sure that the controls of the Cooktop are in large bold letters and can be read easily.
The refrigerator is another important gadget in the household kitchen. When choosing a refrigerator for your loved one make sure that it is a two-door with side by side freezer and fridge. This makes it a lot easier to reach everything, without having to either bend down or reach up. Also buy one that has a large and easy-to-use handle, and a solid grip.
There are adaptive microwaves available in the market today which have features that are useful for people hard off sight or hearing. You can consider buying such a microwave for your loved one.
Even if this kind of microwave is not available, always try to choose one which has a display carrying large bold letters and numbers. Another important detail is that you should always be sure to install your microwave at eye level so that it is easy to operate for your loved one.
Dishwashers are usually installed below the sink and in general below the waist. This is of course a big no-no when it comes to the elderly. Ideally, you would want a dishwasher that is installed at a comfortable waist height so that your loved ones can access it without much problems.
A dishwasher can have complex functions that are difficult to understand especially if you are facing a loss of mental faculties. Try to ensure that the dishwasher that you install is simple and easy to use, and has a display with large text.
Other kitchen appliances (Toaster/Kettle/Coffee makers etc)
Here are a few more pointers about other commonly found gadgets in the kitchen. As mentioned many times above, always look for gadgets that are easy to use, don’t have very complicated functions, and have large displays with bold numbers and letters.
Devices that heat up like toasters and kettles should always have an auto-cut-off option and preferably a temperature measure or an open window so that anyone can know by just looking at the device how hot it is on the inside.
Devices that store or pour out hot liquids such as kettles and coffee makers should have a drip-free spout, an insulated handle, and preferably, an insulated outer body as well.
Entrance, Lobbies & Pathways
Apart from the rooms in the house, there are many common areas such as pathways, lobbies, and of course the entrance to the house which also need modification.
Modifying the entrance to your house is crucial for aging in place. As a person grows older, they are likely to lose their mobility. Keeping this in mind, you should opt for ramps instead of stairs.
You should use an anti-skid ramp, and it should also be equipped with handrails for additional support. You can also put a bench near the door so that you or any other elderly person can sit for a while or keep their bags before opening the door.
Apart from these modifications, you should choose doors that have lever-type knobs and come with a keypad lock for utmost safety.
If you have hallways in your home, make sure they are broad enough for easily walking through or rolling a wheelchair in. If you have pathways in your garden, then you need to trim all weeds and shrubbery to keep it clear. You also need to check if the path is cracked or not and maintain it properly.
Older adults often need to urinate during the night. Add to that their propensity for poor vision, and you can see the disaster at your hand if you have dark pathways in the house!
Your hallways and pathways should be properly illuminated so that they are able to reach the bathroom without the risk of falling down. Adequate lighting will not only make it easier to see and navigate, but will also increase the safety of the house.
However, you should not choose lights that will shine directly in someone’s eyes, as that will defeat the purpose of visibility. Secondly, you can opt for motion-based lighting which will detect their movement and guide them to the right destination as they move along.
Stairs are possibly the most common areas within a home where accidents occur. It is easy for older adults to slip on stairs or lose their grip and fall over. If someone falls on or down a flight of stairs, there will likely be some severe injury. Given below are some ways you can make stairs safer for seniors.
Anti-slip products are available, and you can use them to make the stairs safe. These are usually in the form of carpets, tapes, or rubber. Now, using a carpet does not mean laying down loose rugs or floor coverings.
These products stick to the surface of the stairs and make them safe to tread on. Non-skid paint is also available. You can add a couple of coatings to secure the stairs.
A staircase should be well lit and place bright laps in proper places so that all stairs are clearly visible. Older people may have difficulty seeing areas, especially stairs, which often causes accidents. Therefore, if the staircase is well lit, there is a low chance of them tripping or falling.
Installation of Handrails
Handrails are essential in a staircase. It is beneficial to the elderly who are aging in place and everyone who uses stairs. Choose handrails that have a good grip and ensure that they are installed all along the staircase. It would be best to install them on both sides of the stairs so that a senior person can hold on and walk up steadily.
Home lifts are another good option for aging in place if you have multiple floors in your house. Especially if you are living alone, without any aid, lifts are a supportive aid for you to move around the house.
For senior citizens, a lift can be a lifesaver. You can avail benefits which will ensure a much more dignified and comfortable way of life.
Unlike stairs that are a significant hazard for elderly people and those with balance issues, home lifts are a much more secure option.
Stairlifts allow them to maneuver through their own home without having to take help from anyone. You can enjoy a much larger sense of independence and mobility with residential lifts.
In recent times, stairlifts have become quicker and more advanced (unlike the caricature of older adults spending several minutes going up the stairs)
Another use for stairlifts is to carry heavy loads. Even if you are confident of negotiating stairs on your own, you should never try lifting heavy loads up a stairway if you are an older adult, since there is a risk of throwing your back out. It’s much easier to simply sit on the stairlift and carry the object in your lap
Garden and Yard
A yard is where one can genuinely be expressive and showcase their love of nature. Whether you build a garden or something more, you can choose to portray your aesthetics.
However, you need to ensure that safety is the top factor when you design your yard. Mechanisms that promote security will imbue the space and welcome people, especially the elderly.
Here are some of the most vital things you should consider when installing fixtures for your garden yard.
Proper lighting is essential outside your house if you live with older people. This is because with age comes poor eyesight, and one cannot afford to take the risk of an accident. Sufficient lighting makes it extremely easy for everyone to navigate the garden and the yard and reduces the chance of any fall.
If the garden is crowded with plants, benches, and other such items, proper lighting will let older people properly view the obstacles and the ups and downs, thus ensuring their safety.
You need to make sure that the lighting is placed strategically and does not shine too brightly directly into anyones eyes, causing a glare
An open garden layout and efficient lighting also add to the security of the house and the people living in it. One can easily navigate even through the extreme corners of the property and identify any threat or issue from a safe and sufficient distance.
This improves the security of the house for the elderly members and makes you more comfortable in your own home.
Entry and Exit
Thresholds are not the only thing you should be concerned about while constructing or remodeling the entry at the exit of your house. There are multiple things to be kept in mind, including the security of older adults and improving your aesthetics and house decoration.
You should add some cover from the entry gate to the indoor gate or have a canopy or overhang over the main entrance. Such a feature will be able to protect elderly people from the sun, rain, or other atmospheric conditions like lightning.
Unfortunately, people often trip or meet with accidents when fumbling for their umbrella right outside their home. They may even slip on pathways that are wet from the rain. You should, therefore, modify the entry gate to make it more accessible and as elderly-friendly you need it to be.
Pathways and Sidewalks
The pathways inside, which are some of the most exposed parts of your house, are subjected to constant wear and tear due to weather, regular use, and other factors. This often leads to frequent cracks, broken parts, and uneven edges in these areas.
Although the problems can barely be seen, they might create or initiate false accidents and other issues for you and the older adults living with you. Thus, you must regularly check and prepare them to prevent such disasters.
You can hire professionals to smoothen the pathways and sideways frequently. Such services will make these areas accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices.
Other than this, if the path is clear and in good condition, older adults will be able to take a walk. However, make sure that the track is completely clean and safe as even stone chips can result in them tripping and falling.
Additionally, it would be best to insist on making the pathways in the garden wider. This will allow you to put in handrails or other fixtures to support the person while walking. During emergencies, cars and helping vehicles can also quickly enter the premises.
Steps in the garden are a gateway to where you want to go. However, improperly placed stairs, even short ones, can spell disaster for the elderly. One off-step can cause accidents that you can easily avoid.
How do you rectify that? For one, eliminating them can be a step towards securing safety. If there is a considerable height between your doorway and your ground, you can install one singular step.
Another alternative could be installing ramps. Ramps in the yard are beneficial for those who cannot or should not use stairs. A ramp acts as a gentle incline that allows people to move without missing a step and falling. You can easily prevent nasty mishaps with ramps.
Moreover, ramps are the way to go if you use any sort of support like walking sticks or a wheelchair when out in the garden. You can easily walk up and down without putting too much pressure on your legs.
Those who use wheelchairs can roll themselves on the ramp without any burden. Eliminate the hazard of steps by looking into these worthy alternatives.
Railings are a vital mechanism for people. It offers significant assistance to those who use steps while also upholding the staircase. Rails help prevent people from falling over. Moreover, with stable support, railings are a godsend for people who feel the effects of vertigo.
Older people can lean on railings when they use stairs to move up or down. When installing railings on your staircase, ensure that they are sturdy and can support adequate weight. Flimsy railings are not at all suitable – they may waver, or worse, break. Choose railings that will be the support they promise to be for you.
Overall Maintenance of Garden and Yard
Modifications and redecorations are essential to creating a safe and comfortable home. Still, the overall maintenance of the garden and yard is of utmost importance. All modelings and furnishings require frequent cleaning, oiling, and checkups.
It is essential because you wouldn’t want the safety measures to be hazardous or accident-prone. It is also safe to build a few benches and structures around the garden for resting.
Also, if you or any other elderly family enjoys gardening, it is best to opt for dwarf plants. These plants are safer as they do not take up much space or require much attention. They also look pretty aesthetic and have all the features of normal-sized plants.
But since these plants are smaller in size, less prone to cause accidents, and easier to maintain. Artificial grass is also an excellent way to enhance the beauty of your garden without creating hassle or making the area muddy and risky.
Other Living Spaces
Prefer a front loading washer and dryer instead of a top-loading one where you would have to bend down in order to put in your clothes. Also, make sure to put in a pedestal stand so that the washer and dryer are at a comfortable height and can be used effectively by your loved ones without having to bend down or twist themselves.
It’s also important to buy a washer and dryer whose instructions are easy to understand and to have large bold letters in their display.The wiring of your washer and dryer should be neatly tucked away and should not be lying on the floor which would present a fall hazard.
Ensure that there is ample storage space in the laundry room for your dirty as well as clean clothes. install large open shelves at waist height so that they are easy to access full stop for additional space install roll-out wardrobe with D-shaped handles instead of knobs.
Make sure to use a lever-type faucet instead of one that uses knobs since it’s easier for the elderly with dexterity issues to use levers. If possible, consider installing motion sensor-based faucets. Use a sink with a wide and deep basin. Wider basins are easier to use, and deeper ones can carry a larger load of clothes at one time.
If your loved ones prefer to do their laundry in the evening or at night make sure that the laundry room should have adequate ambient light as well as task lights near the washer and dryer.
If you have a garage where you need to enter and exit using stairs from the house, you might want to consider installing ramps so that your loved ones can access it with a wheelchair. Another option to consider is a garage lift, which is very useful in case they have to carry a lot of things along with them to the house in their wheelchair.
There should be adequate lighting in the garage so that you are not simply dependent on the garage door light to light up the whole place. A good option would be to consider installing automated lights that can be turned off or turned on before entering the garage itself. Also, be sure that there is enough ambient light courage and task lighting in places where overhead lighting is insufficient.
Organize the entire garage and put in place a shelf system where everything is kept in order so that all your tools and equipment are not just lying around on the floor. Consider Installing a cabinet organizer.
The flooring of the garage can be a hazard as far as falls and slipping are concerned. If the flooring of your garage is pure concrete you might want to install a layer of tiles above it which are slip-resistant and easy to clean and maintain.
Another aspect is fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure that you have adequate coverage inside the garage. Keep fire extinguishers handy and easily accessible in case of a fire. Another aspect of safety is burglar alarms. Make sure to install the latest safety devices which have direct connectivity to the local police station, ambulance, and fire department.
While modifications are necessary, it is also essential to maintain the home’s condition. If you have floors that are slippery and not clean, they will become dangerous for older adults to walk on.
Every area of the house needs to be maintained if senior family members are staying at home. One door falling off the hinges, a fraying rug, or bathrooms with no proper grab bars or other supportive elements can lead to severe accidents.
To maintain your home, you need to inspect every nook and corner. If you notice that any part of the house is potentially unsafe for elderly people, try to rectify or modify that area. This is why you should choose furniture, fittings, and equipment that is long-lasting but also convenient.
These will not only make the house a safer place but will also ensure that the house stays so for quite some time. Avoid using heavy carpets, fancy upholstery, or materials that are difficult to clean. These usually get damaged quickly and may become unsafe for regular use. Invest some time in regular maintenance, and your home will remain secure for all elderly family members.
Cleanliness is another aspect you should take special care of. Older people are very susceptible to the slightest of germs, so installing air purifiers and removing anything that accumulates dirty water (like water pots) or dust (rugs, carpets, curtains) needs to be thoroughly cleaned every few days.
When you are designing the interiors for an elderly person, you need to be a little cautious as there are very minute details that need to be paid attention to. Even a small mistake can cost your older adults dearly, due to falls and accidents. We need to realize that aging bodies are not adept at healing themselves and extra care is very essential
So, this is where our guide comes to an end. We hope we have covered everything comprehensively and have given you enough food for thought in order to start out a home modification program.
If you feel there are areas that we have left out, please drop us a comment below and we will try to put a spotlight on them. As always, please share this content as much as possible so that others can benefit from the knowledge.