Due to increasing life expectancy, more people are aging in place now than ever, especially with long-term care costs continually rising and some areas seeing a shortage of care available. While it may be intimidating to consider your loved one aging in their own home, here are 5 home modifications that can help them stay in their home well past retirement.
If a senior relies on mobility aids, such as a wheelchair, widening doorways is a must. Depending on the insulation and placement of electrical switches and outlets, costs vary greatly for this.
Exterior stairs may be a challenge for seniors who are unsteady on their feet or have balance issues, so installing ramps is a necessary home modification that is well worth the cost. Threshold ramps are also necessary home modifications, providing safer transitions throughout the home for those using wheelchairs. These ramps are easily adjustable as well. Another option to increase stair safety around the home is to simply add traction tape to the stairs and elevated walking surfaces.
As seniors age, they may find that their appliances are no longer in ideal locations and that their countertops and cabinetry are too high, especially if they are in a wheelchair. Professional contractors may need to come in and adjust the counter height and lower the sink, to allow for easier access from a seated position. Additionally, seniors aging in place often find it easier when microwaves are placed on stands, as opposed to being at the back of the counter or in raised microwave cabinets.
Shower and Bathtub Modifications.
Consider replacing the bathtub with a walk-in shower or walk-in tub, which provides much easier (and safer) entry and exit than a bathtub.
If a senior wants to keep their existing bathtub, or cannot afford to replace it, simple modifications such as adding safety bars or installing safety strips can help prevent slips and falls. Other less expensive modifications are purchasing a bathtub bench or chair. These enable seniors to sit safely and securely while getting in and out of the tub unassisted.
If the carpet is older and shaggy, you may want to consider replacing it with new carpeting that has a shorter nap. Seniors are less likely to trip on shorter-nap carpeting.
Hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl floors are smooth and may allow for easier wheelchair maneuvering, but they also tend to be more slippery than carpeting. People often use throw rugs on these types of flooring, so be sure that you either get rid of them or securely tape them down to prevent trips and falls.
The best course of action to take when making home modifications for seniors aging in place is to consider all the areas of the home that present the most trouble or concern. Taking a proactive approach to modify the home allows seniors to age in place independently while their loved ones have peace of mind knowing their aging parent is safer in their homes.
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