Senior Age Friendly Home Updates
Do-It-Yourself Updates for Senior Homes
The body goes through a lot of changes as we age and, unfortunately, those changes can be frustrating and troublesome. They can also be quite expensive, so modifying the home can be an intimidating process that we’d rather avoid altogether. But while there are some investments that will be necessary because of safety and convenience, there are actually many ways we can make our homes safer and more accessible without having to sing over your savings to a contractor. Here are some easy age friendly home updates you can do yourself over a weekend: Senior Age Friendly Home Updates
The Front Entry
Make it accessible without any steps. Thresholds higher than half an inch pose big problems with walkers and wheelchairs, so it may be worthwhile to invest in a portable threshold or a threshold ramp. An entryway with a high threshold plus stairs comes with even more risks, so a ramp is worth some serious consideration. Their benefits make them worth having as a permanent fixture, but if costs and aesthetics are an issue then it’s possible to make your own. There are important safety considerations that need to be taken into account, but DIY portable ramps can offer mobile wheelchair and walker assistance while allowing you to pack them into the garage as needed.
Kitchens Senior Age Friendly Home Updates
Reaching up high and bending down to low can put a lot of strain on backs. Spare seniors the discomfort by installing some pull-out shelves and sliding drawers. High shelves can have units installed that pull down or slide out for a quick reach, and low cupboards can have pull out bins drilled in to enable an easy grab minus the crouching and digging. And you don’t have to be a home builder to pull it off. Find a drill gun and a steady hand, and the hardest part will be finding a parking spot at the home supply store.
And while you’re shopping for those cabinets, be sure to take a look at cabinet knobs and drawer pulls. Anything that requires a small and tight grip is going to challenge arthritic hands, and that’s unnecessary pain that can be easily avoided. D-shaped and C-shaped knobs are the best route to go, but anything that can be grabbed with a closed fist will make cabinetry easier to access.
If there’s one room that demands a remodel, it’s the bathroom. Floors are slippery; tubs and showers are hard to climb in and out of; sinks don’t accommodate wheelchairs; and low toilets make it hard to lower down and stand back up. The ideal bathroom would have a walk-in tub with built in grab bars, non-slip floors, ADA approved toilets, and a pedestal sink that’s accessible from a wheelchair. Unfortunately, these types of renovations take a considerable amount of both time and money, so they won’t be feasible until next year’s tax return. Luckily there are important safety measures that can be taken — and they won’t take a pretty penny and hours of effort.
One reason bathrooms have such dangerous potential is because there’s nothing to grab onto. Grab bars can address this, and they can even do so in a functional and aesthetic manner. Grab bars can be purchased as dual-purpose units that incorporate a toilet paper holder, towel hanger, or even a shelf, so they can blend in with the bathroom rather than stand out like a sore thumb. Find grab bar units that match your faucets and install one by the toilet as well as the inside and outside of the shower and tub to offer helpful support. Purchase non-skid mats or tape to place outside the shower and tub and the risk of slips will be reduced even further.
Whether or not you need to accommodate a wheelchair or walker, you want to have room to roam. Tight spaces make it easy for clothing to catch onto knobs and corners, and cords can cause some painful falls, so it’s imperative to have clear walkways. Unfortunately, that may mean rolling up some of your favorite rugs. Frayed edges and floppy corners are fall hazards for seniors, so anything that isn’t non-slip or fixed down with double-sided tape is best kept in storage. Get string rugs packed up and push anything with cords along the wall where they’re less likely to be tripped on.
There are many different ways to add comfort and safety to your home without putting in a huge chunk of time or money. Everyone deserves quality of life, and a weekend or two of installation will make that all possible.
About the Author
As Senior.com Director of Sales and Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well. Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor. Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and she was a primary caregiver. Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 104-year-old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor. She is happily married to her husband of 24 years and they have 3 children.View All Articles