by: Natasha Woods
Most people think about aging and picture themselves retiring in a safe home that they love. Research has found that 87% of seniors have the goal of spending their last years living in their own home. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that but unfortunately, most homes are not actually safe for an aging senior.
When you take a look at most new houses, you instantly notice that they are designed for younger individuals with better mobility. A house can easily turn into a really dangerous place as you age because even a simple fall can lead to serious consequences. If you want a senior loved one to stay in their home when they age, you have to think about safety.
Fortunately, there are many different things that you can do to make the home safer for those of us in our golden years.
1. Install A Stair Lift
If the home has a staircase (either inside or outside), one of the best things you can do is install a stairlift. Most seniors think that they are too expensive but they fully understand the added advantages. Fortunately, the stairlift price is lower now than ever. One can easily afford to install a stairlift and reap the safety benefits. Just make sure that you hire someone with experience to install it for making transport and transfers as easy and safe as possible.
2. Identify Potential Safety Issues
The next thing you should do is move through the house and identify all other potential dangers. You can take a notepad with you and write down what has to be changed as you move from one room to the next. If possible, have a friend join you to be sure you do not miss anything. Some things to consider include:
● Out of reach items.
● Items that could unexpectedly fall.
● Items seniors could trip over.
● Items seniors might bump into during the night.
● Items seniors need to step over to move.
Try to identify all potential hazards. This includes minimal ones. Your notes can easily be turned into a useful to do list that features all you have to update for the home to be safer.
3. Re-Arrange Furniture
Every single room should have clear paths that can be taken without risking tripping over or running into something. In order to do this, you have to re-arrange the furniture. Move most items close to the walls to get them out of the way.
If need be, ask someone to help you move furniture. Also, it is possible that you will have to remove some items that will no longer fit. Generally speaking, the less furniture in a home, the lower the risks.
4. Eliminate Rugs
Rugs can make a room look more aesthetically pleasing but they are a huge danger for seniors. Edges are a hazard for tripping, just like when a rug bunches up. Even if your senior loved one loves a rug, it is better to just take it out to avoid serious falls. You can always offer the rugs as gifts or sell them.
Of course, if the senior wants to keep the rug (who doesn’t?) then you can nail down the edges to avoid tripping.
5. Re-Organize Cabinets
If seniors have to get on a stepladder or a chair to get something, they are faced with a totally unnecessary risk. Organize all of the cabinets all over the house so that everything that is out of reach can be placed lower.
You will surely need to be creative or you will have to buy extra storage products but the investment is worth it. At the same time, if the cabinets are positioned way too high, it is better to completely reposition them.
6. Add Extra Lighting
If a senior can’t see what is around them, there is a higher possibility that they can trip over something you miss in your cleanup or run into something that can hurt them. In areas of their home where a step is present, add low lighting. Then, add stick-on tap lights under kitchen cabinets to illuminate counters. This makes meal prep safer.
Any and all hallways, rooms, and closets should have a light on at all times if seniors plan on walking through their home at night. The more light, the safer they’ll be from tripping hazards or even their own feet.
As an extra tip, as much as possible, avoid the lights that need cords so you do not risk tripping over them.
7. Install Smart Lights
As already mentioned, you want to have the home properly illuminated. This is made simple when you install smart lights. These can be turned on or turned off with the use of voice commands or a smartphone. There are even models you can activate with a clap.
8. Install Grab Bars In Your Bathroom
One thing all seniors should know about bathrooms is that they are the most dangerous room of the home. As we age, it can become really tough to get into and out of the bathtub. Also, seniors can easily slip on wet floors. Even using the toilet can be difficult.
In order to improve bathroom safety, one of the easiest things you can do is install grab bars. Just place them where using them makes it simple to keep balance while navigating the bathroom.
9. Make Your Bathtub Safer To Use
One thing you should seriously consider is installing a walk-in bathtub. It is really easy to find one that is practical or affordable. At the same time, there are other alternatives that can easily be implemented. Using appropriate tools can make taking a shower or a bath a lot easier.
10. Hire Cleaners
Many seniors find it difficult to clean because of different mobility problems. Every single time they clean, they are exposed to unnecessary risks. A simple solution to this problem is to hire a cleaning service. Have them come to the home according to a strict schedule to have a home that is sanitary and safe as seniors avoid the dangers of living in a dirty house.
11. Add Bath Mats
Although rugs should be removed from the home, in the bathroom, it is a really good idea to add slip-resistant mats. This is because a bathroom is very slippery and you can easily fall. The bath mats are usually made out of rubber or plastic, removing the risk of slipping. You can add them on the floor around the sink, in the shower and even on the bottom of the bathtub.
12. Make Sure Bed Height Is Proper
When the bed is too high, it becomes a falling hazard for seniors. Also, if the feet cannot completely rest on the ground as they sit on their bed, the bed is just too high. Consider adding a small step to reduce the negative effect of height as they get in and out of bed.
13. Create A Contact List For Emergencies
Emergency contact numbers should always be visible, just like critical medical information. A great place to have a list with this information is on the fridge. Try looking online for magnetic contact lists. They are really cheap and can be so useful for all important to do lists seniors may want to create.
14. Install Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors should be installed in the entire house but they are especially important in the kitchen. This is where most fires start, usually during cooking. Fortunately, you can easily install some smoke and heat smart detectors that can even send you a smartphone notification if something bad happens and you are not in your home.
15. Make Exterior House Doors More Secure
Being a senior can make you a target for burglars that will look for ways to get in. The easiest way to get in is through exterior house doors and windows. Make sure that you install deadbolt locks on such doors and that you replace decorative glass with safety glass. If the exterior door is hollow or made out of glass, replace it with metal doors or solid wood doors. If the budget allows it, install some motion sensors that control lighting to improve visibility and deter potential criminals.
16. Install A Home Security System
Having fake cameras is not enough since burglars can easily spot them. It is always better to install a modern home security system, preferably one that is based on wireless connectivity. The modern ones allow you to monitor and remotely manage features from a smartphone. Such a feature is really useful for seniors because if a false alarm is set off, the system can be remotely turned off.
17. Use Medical Alert Systems
The medical alert system allows the senior homeowner to gain extra safety in the event a medical emergency occurs. The principle is really simple. You activate the system with a simple push of a button. Help will come to the home as fast as possible. Medical alert systems are monitored at any point of day or night so if something bad happens, you can be sure help will come.
Making the home secure for a senior should always be a priority. It needs to be done sooner rather than later as you never know when someone will be in an emergency in their own home. The recommendations above will help you increase the security of a senior loved one’s home to protect them from serious injuries and pain. However, what you have to do varies from one case to the next. The most important step is to create the above mentioned to do list. Identify the dangerous parts of the home and make changes to increase safety.
Natasha is a firm believer in health and wellness for all ages. Having been a family caregiver for her grandmother, she knows what it’s like to go through family trials and tribulations. She is currently a blogger who wants to aid others in understanding the tips of healthy and safe aging that she has come across with her own personal experiences as well as through deep research on the topic.