6 Must-Have Modifications for Seniors Aging in Place

June 15, 2020 | BY PHS Staff

Are you or the senior in your life preparing to age in place? There are several special considerations to think about when weighing the pros and cons of staying at home vs. moving into a nursing home or assisted living community.

Part of our Alzheimer’s home care services is ensuring your senior is living in a safe and calm environment. But while senior home care services can make this decision much easier to deal with for both the elderly and their family members, modifications still must be made to ensure all health and mobility challenges are taken care of.

Physical limitations occur more and more often as you get older. According to the Institute on Aging, of men between 65 and 74, 13% cannot perform at least one ADL (activity of daily living), compared with 40% of men over 85. For the ladies, 19% of women ages 65 to 74 can’t perform at least one ADL, compared with 53% over 85 years old.

But if you are able to make some basic yet critical adjustments or modifications in your existing home, or that of your aging parents, you can do your part to significantly reduce hazards, making at home care easier.

1.    Put Reinforcements in the Bathroom

Showers and tubs: these are the top two places in the bathroom where accidents occur, especially when you add poor balance or mobility issues to the mix. Also, install grab bars in the shower so seniors can get in and out more easily without falling or tripping. You’ll also want to put some by the sink and toilet for added assistance.

If it’s in the budget, replace the regular tub with a step-in shower, as well as a pressure-balanced control and hand-held showerhead or seat – crucial for people who suffer from limited mobility or poor coordination. A single-handled faucet control for the sinks and tubs will reduce the scalding risk.

2.    Widen Up Doorways

For those who rely on mobility aids like wheelchairs and walkers, widening existing doorways will ensure the senior can more easily navigate through doorways and down hallways. How much it costs you will vary with the insulation and placement of electrical outlets and switches, according to Assisted Living Today.

3.    Put in Ramps

Stairs on the exterior of the home can pose a big challenge for those who tend to be unsteady on their feet or who require the use of a mobility aid. The installation of ramps offers residents greater independence and is considered a safe and wise move.

Indoor threshold ramps are also necessary for those who use wheelchairs, to enable a smooth transition from one flooring type to another. Such threshold ramps are made of rubber, so they are adjustable and able to accommodate steps and door jambs. Another option is to add traction tape to any stairs or elevated walking surfaces.

4.    Switch Out Hardware

Replace traditional doorknobs and faucets with lever hardware, making it easy for seniors with severe arthritis to open a door or shut off the faucet tap. Illuminated rocker switches are a good change as compared with standard toggle light switches, which can be slightly more difficult to use or see for vision impaired seniors.

5.    Make Sure Floors Are Not Slippery

Slippery surfaces = slipping hazards. Older seniors can’t risk a fall, especially if they live alone. All flooring surfaces should be slip-resistant. You can do this by:

  • Adding non-skid mats under all area rugs.
  • Get rid of all those area rugs if you can, as they are inherent trip hazards to begin with.
  • Modify or eliminate trip points at the thresholds that connect rooms.
  • Install low-pile carpeting to reduce the likelihood of falls, suggests This Old House.

6.    Light Hallways

Dim lighting can result in trips, spills, and falls, so add nightlights in closets, down hallways, in kitchens, in bathrooms and in bedrooms. Got a multiple-story home? Make sure the stairways are well lit, accompanied by hand rails on both sides. It’s also helpful to place tape on the edges of stairs so seniors can define the transition clearly.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

To learn more about how our at home care services keep your seniors safe as they age in place, please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.