As you age, you notice subtle changes that make some activities and everyday tasks harder to do. This means that if you are planning on aging in your own home, you should make a few arrangements around the house to help you live as independently as you can in the coming years. Here’s a checklist to help guide you.
Flooring, Entryway, and Stairs
Flooring, entryways, and stairs are all areas of the home where you are mostly mobile so take note of anything that hinders easy movement. Here are some guidelines:
- Repave or reconstruct cracked or uneven surfaces starting with the pathway leading to your home to minimize the risk of tripping.
- Remove doormats and replace them with non-slip flooring both inside and outside the house to give you proper footing. Whether you’re using carpets, floor runner, or non-slip mats, make sure they’re fastened securely on the floor.
- Designate a waist-level surface outside your home where you can place all your packages before coming inside. This frees up both your hands so you’re better equipped to maintain your balance.
- Consider eliminating stairs in the entryway and have a low-rise ramp instead. But if you must have stairs, make sure there are handrails on both sides of the stairs that are easy for you to grip.
- Improve visibility of steps by using contrasting colors on the risers and treads of the stairs.
- Have at least one covered entryway to your house, preferably your main door. A wet surface can be very slippery.
- Install ample lighting to make sure the steps and other details are very visible. Make sure the light does not cast a shadow over crucial spaces.
- Use motion-sensor lights or at least, install an illuminated rocker switch so you don’t have to fumble in the dark trying to switch on the light.
If you have lived in the same house for many years, there’s a good chance you have amassed many things. Unfortunately, those innocent-looking fixtures and simple furniture could pose some danger to you as you age. Plus, there might even be your good loyal furry friend on the scene. Here are changes you can make to help make the living room safer for you.
- Make sure you have ample space in your living room: not too big that you have to walk a good distance to get to other rooms or the bathroom and not too small that you don’t have enough space to freely move around. If you’re feeling cramped in the living room, consider using unused space from other rooms to extend your living room. If the room’s too spacious, consider making some renovations to make everything very accessible for you.
- The living room should be thoroughly illuminated.
- Remove all wobbly fixtures. Chairs and sofa should be stable and at a comfortable height that you can easily sit down and stand.
- Get those wires and cables out of the way. Be very methodical in removing any form of clutter on the floor.
- If you have a loyal pooch in the house, make sure it has a designated place that’s out of the way where it can safely lie down or play with its toys. Use a dog fence if you have to and keep all its toys in that secure area.
- Change the smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries annually and make sure they work properly.
- Insulate your home properly. You’ll thank yourself for the foresight during those cool winter months and hot summer days.
The “heart of a home” shouldn’t be a danger area, but the unfortunate fact is that as your dexterity decreases, the kitchen could pose several risks. Burns, fire, and getting hit by a falling object are the common culprit of kitchen injuries. Here are ways to help minimize your risk for those:
- If the cabinets are hard to reach, move them to a lower place so that everything is easily accessible to you. Moreover, keep those most used utensils and tools within reach. You can store them near your work area.
- Pot handles should be turned inwards when stored.
- Replace glass containers with unbreakable ones.
- Label everything properly and throw away expired food.
- Invest in automatic shut-off appliances. Also, consider switching to an electric stove and teakettle just to minimize or eliminate your use of open fire. When buying new appliances, choose those with simple interfaces and easy to read controls.
- Have a list of emergency numbers posted in your fridge or anywhere that’s very visible.
- A fire extinguisher near the stove is also a great addition to your kitchen.
Areas in your house which presents the most risk for injuries are the bedroom and bathroom. And since you spend a great deal of your time in the privacy of your bedroom, you should go the extra mile to make sure it remains the place of rest and safety that it is.
- Your bed should be just the right height to avoid any injury. While there’s no one height standard that’s suitable for everyone since that’s largely dependent on various factors like your height and health issues, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund recommend bed height of 20-23 inches from the floor to the top of the mattress.
- Do not use bed linens, bedspreads, and draperies with hems that reach the floor. It could trip you especially when you’re walking around sleepily. Make sure there’s no pillow or blanket on the floor before you take a step in the morning.
- Your nightstand should be very sturdy and within your reach. It should be able to support you when you get up should you need it for balance.
- Place all your important items in your nightstand. Items like phone, medications, and a flashlight should also be within your reach when you’re in bed.
- Install a nightlight in the bedroom. Or if you can’t sleep with the lights on, install an automatic light.
- Light switches should be near the door so you won’t have to fumble your way into the room trying to switch on the light.
- Contents in the closet should be within reach. Don’t place items in the upper cabinets if they’re hard to reach without a ladder.
- Check the floor. The door threshold should be beveled and electrical cords, laundry baskets, and other items should be stored properly and kept out of the way.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that bathroom injuries account for approximately 230,000 visits to the ER every year. Given the severity of this problem, you need to take a close look at your bathroom and make these necessary changes.
- Install grab bars in the surrounding walls of the bathroom.
- Have a sturdy shower bench in case you can’t stand up for long or you have a balance issue. Instead of the regular shower head, consider having a flexible handheld shower since it goes well with the shower bench.
- Place nonslip mats in the shower and in front of the toilet.
- Set temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and mark faucets properly as hot or cold. Better still, use a no-scald shower valve or faucet.
- Replace your old toilet with ADA-approved raised toilet seat.
- Toiletries must be placed somewhere within your reach yet out of the way so that it wouldn’t hinder easy movement within the bathroom.
If you want a good excuse to spend your hard-earned money on your house, you’ve just found one. There’s no better investment than on your safety around the house. Having a safe surrounding gives you the confidence to go through your everyday routine independently.