Today’s seniors are choosing to age at home rather than enter retirement communities, independent and assisted living facilities. The rapidly growing Baby Boomer generation is more active and on the go, opposed to previous generations which is great as we want to encourage activity. There are many services provided such as meal delivery and transportation services that allow Seniors to remain in their homes independently.
Although aging at home independently may not be forever, there are some things that can be done to make the home safer and more functional to remain there longer.
First, assess all entryways and rooms in the home. Look for problem areas such as clutter, potential tripping or slipping hazards, and unclear pathways. Unnecessary furniture and rugs, TV cables should be removed from the space. It is common to lose balance as we age so ensuring that the floors are consistent throughout the home is important. To reduce the risk of falling consider soft, non-slick flooring. Also, to make mobility easier for seniors consider using first level of the home only. By combining your essential rooms onto the first floor this will make the home easier to navigate. Also be mindful that your loved one is always wearing the proper footwear.
If possible, try to make sure that there is an entryway without steps. If there is enough space, consider building a ramp to allow safe entry into the home. This also makes navigating a wheelchair much easier. If the doors inside of the home are too narrow, consider widening them to allow for wheelchair and walker access.
The bathroom is a very important room in the home to make more senior friendly as many accidents occur due to slippery surfaces. Bathroom updates would include adding safety grab bars next to the toilet and shower to provide extra stability. Removing a bathtub and installing a stand-alone shower would allow for an easier entry and exit. Other items to consider are a detachable shower head and shower chair.
As we age it is common for our vision to decline. From the age of 60 onward vision loss accelerates. Elderly people need much more light to be able to see clearly and perform basic tasks. This is especially true for people with dementia. Dark spots can appear ominous and confusing to the brain. Providing nice, bright spaces will help ease the mind. Consider switching to LED bulbs and touch-sensitive bedside lamps.
Having access to a phone in every room or a cell phone would be beneficial to aging seniors. For some older adults, poor eyesight or motor skills may make it hard to use a cell phone so do not be afraid to ask for help. Many community centers, libraries, and hospitals offer classes for seniors to help them feel comfortable using smartphones. Using a medical alert device can be a very useful safety precaution for seniors living alone. These devices allow your loved one to keep a transmitting device with them at all times and can alert emergency services with the push of a button.