Before you move your aging parent or loved one into your home or when you are helping them age in place, you need a plan to make it safe. Take an objective view of your home from the perspective of someone who uses a wheelchair or is a fall risk.
One option is to call in a pro. A pro can assess the home and recommend modifications and/or remodel projects that will make the living space safer. This assessment can be performed by an occupational therapist, physical therapist, geriatric care manager, or a certified aging-in-place specialist.
Homes may require modifications such as :
- zero-threshold entryways
- wide doorways and halls
- offset door hinges to make room for a wheelchair, walker or two people walking side by side
- controls and switches that are reachable from a wheelchair or bed
- a waterproof seat in the shower
- a stair-climber
- a raised toilet seat
- a shower chair
- a frameless walk-in shower with a sloped floor instead of a step-over threshold
- put textured no-slip strips in the bathtub and shower to lessen the chance of a fall
These can be done is a stylish and comfortable manner that is safe for all ages.
Falls are a major concern for aging adults. You can minimize this concern by taking a number of simple steps to make the environment safer. Some examples include:
- Remove throw rugs.
- Use rubber-backed bathmats.
- Move laundry facilities to the first floor.
- Remove wheels on chairs.
- Put nonskid treads on steps.
- Keep steps clear.
- Apply nonslip wax to floors.
- If wandering is a worry, you may need to add sensors and alarms.
- Repair loose carpeting or raised areas of flooring.
- Move small and low furniture.
- Clear electric cords and clutter.
- Add a hall railing.
- Switch out standard doorknobs for lever handles.
- Add a raised toilet and grab bars.
- Remove locks from bedroom and bathroom doors so you can get in quickly, should your loved one fall.
- Put a railing on the hall wall.
- Swap out your recliner for one that raises and lowers — to make getting up easier.
You may be able to find assistance by contacting your local area agency of aging or Veterans Affairs office.