The Importance of Creating a Safer Home for Seniors
Living independently in Sacramento, CA offers terrific benefits for seniors. Maintaining the freedom to live in their own home, however, can be filled with challenges. Many of the features in a home can be modified to help keep a senior living in their home and without fear of possible injury. Seniors can experience slips and falls from time to time when they lose their balance. Injuries can range from minor bruises to broken bones. The bathroom, stairs, and walkways can all benefit from the addition of railings, guards, and lifts. Below are some tips for some of the best ways you can modify your loved ones’ homes to ensure they are safe performing everyday tasks.
Modifications to the Home
An essential consideration when making changes to your Sacramento home is the quality of the installation. The goal for modifying any part of a house to make it safer can make a massive difference in the durability and longevity of the addition. While some features can be done yourself, hiring a professional to add specific features can be a worry-free solution. Below are some of the elements you change in your seniors’ home to make it safer from slips and falls as well as instructions for the best placement.
The shower or bath tub can be a very dangerous place for seniors if not equipped with certain safety features. Water creates a slippery surface especially when combined with soap and creates slip and fall dangers.
One modification you can make to a shower is adding a grab bar around the inside of the shower wall. ADA compliant grab bars make a perfect addition to any seniors’ home. It can allow them to shower on their own without the fear of falling. If a fall does occur, elderly people can use the bars to help them up. Shower bars are mainly made from stainless steel to prevent rusting and provide a sleek look. They are also stronger than those made of plastic. Installing shower bars can be difficult depending on what type of material the shower is made of. Those with a plastic insert are slightly easier than a tile surround.
When trying to find the best placement for shower grab bars, it’s good to consider the height. The ideal location is about waist high, and for most individuals, this will be around 3 feet. Shower grab bars can also be applied as an entry and exit tool. Having the correct placement will make it easier for your loved ones to hold on to and use. When combined with safety, no-slip attachments on the bottom of the shower or tub, it will be a worry-free bathing experience.
Another shower modification that is a huge safety upgrade is a walk-in shower. These have become more affordable since they first appeared. Walk-in showers can replace standard bathtubs and allow a senior to enter the shower without having to take a large step.
Making Stairs More Accommodating
Stairs can be somewhat complicated for seniors. It can be hard to maneuver and sometimes bending at the knee isn’t a possibility. Those who require the use of a wheelchair can find stairs to be a massive obstacle. To make a home safer and more accommodating, stairs can be modified to allow seniors to navigate their home without needing assistance. For less steep stairs and outside stairs benefit significantly with the addition of ramps. Ramps are a tricky install. Usually, they need to be custom made for the best fit. However, the addition of a ramp can make non-accessible areas more accessible to reach or open up more areas to the home. Seniors and disabled elderly that live in a split level home can find it easier to have a ramp installed to utilize almost every room in the house.
Exterior ramps can be used to make reaching vehicles much more manageable and prevent falling outside where help might not be available. Ramps should be installed by a handyman or contractor that can build them specifically for the senior to use. Certain specifications are taken into consideration to get the best overall benefit.
Some seniors or their families find the addition of a lift helpful in the home. Two-story homes can end up seeing no use with the top floor. However, a lift can give seniors the access to the second story without worry of falling, or not being capable of climbing the stairs. Chair lifts can be rather expensive and need to be installed by a professional, but they can give a homeowner full use of their two-story home.
Seniors enjoy the freedom of feeding and cooking for themselves. At times it is important to make adjustments to the kitchen to ensure your loved one is safe while caring for themselves. The kitchen poses numerous threats. When a senior has to reach for specific items that are beyond their grasp injuries can occur. The thought that heavier items can fall, or just not be able to reach something they need calls for more accessibility. Those that use a wheelchair can find a standard kitchen less than useful. Kitchens can be changed to allow seniors who aren’t as mobile or flexible to still have full access to everything they need. Standard cabinets can be too high for seniors or those that require a wheelchair. The addition of more base cabinets, the type that sits on the floor, can allow more storage for everyday items such as plates, silverware, and cookware. Adding more base cabinets will also increase the number of countertops.
Countertop height can be modified when adding new base cabinets. If considering a full kitchen remodel with new cabinets, adjusting the height will be ideal for seniors in a wheelchair. They will be able to have full use of the counters and cabinets without needing help. Being able to reach everything required without support can make the kitchen a much safer experience.
The Dangers of Throw Rugs
There is a word of caution when creating a home that is safe for seniors. Throw rugs pose a massive risk. Because throw rugs aren’t secured to the floor, typically, they will wrinkle and are a tripping hazard. If your loved ones’ homes feature throw rugs, consider rolling it up and putting it in the closet. If, however, it is a laminate or hardwood surface they can be affixed with an adhesive or tacked down. It is essential that rugs are removed to prevent accidents from occurring.
There are different ways to create a more accommodating and safe home for seniors. Adding features or modifying what is currently in place can make both a senior and their loved ones more comfortable living by themselves or with minimal amounts of supervision. If you are uncertain about what you can do to improve your seniors’ home, contacting a handyman for ideas can help.
Harmony Home Care, serving Sacramento, CA and the surrounding areas of El Dorado Hills, Placerville and all areas in between, is committed to treating those we serve like family. Contact us today to learn more about our servant heart philosophy and how we can help your loved one feel better at home or download our free evaluation for in-home caregivers below.
About the Author:
Andrew Shearer owns and operates Sacramento Handyman, a local handyman service company. His company provides valuable assistance with modifications to homes for the elderly as well as general home improvement needs. He is exceptionally knowledgeable on topics of repairs and improvements to make a home function correctly and safely.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR