Our home is where we feel most secure. Most of us have lived in our homes for many years and we feel like we’re growing old together. Back in the day, it was fashionable to move into care homes and seniors’ communities.
But now, we want to stay where we’ve always been. Growing old together. Furthermore, we have our circle of friends, we know where the local stores are, we keep our daily routine. And, that’s important!
So, how do we make our home into a safe place for a senior? Stairs are a nightmare, the lawn is too big to maintain and heaps of other problems.
Usually, we can overcome most of these problems, we just need to think and plan, and rearrange a few things. And, with the help of an able-bodied son-in-law or a local handyman, we’ll end up with a safe and comfortable home once again.
Make Kitchen more Senior-Friendly
As we get older our vision often becomes worse. In the kitchen, we use sharp knives and handle hot pots and pans. So, we need as much light as possible to stay safe. Ideally, change the light fittings, and use spotlights. Otherwise, increase the light bulb wattage and add some additional sidelights.
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Round the Edges
We often use the kitchen as a place to eat as well as preparation. As such, they can easily become cluttered with chairs, tables and all manner of items that obstruct our safe passage around the room. Get rid of things with sharp corners that you might bump into.
Buy a round table rather than a square one. Hire someone to round off the corners of worktop counters. Your goal is to make your kitchen a place of safety rather than an obstacle course.
Make Storage more Accessible
As we get older, we find it harder to bend and stretch. Unfortunately, kitchen storage cupboards always seem to be high or near the ground. To rearrange a kitchen is a mammoth task and will cost a lot of money. Instead, simply make a list of the often-used items and store them in places you can reach.
Many of us suffer from arthritis and experience tremors as we get older. ‘Having the shakes’ makes it almost impossible to hold or use kitchen appliances safely.
Use an electric can opener, lightweight coffee cups (possibly with two large handles rather than one small one), Use cutlery designed for a senior with hand coordination problems. Rather than use a hot cooking device like a grill, oven, and hotplates, use a microwave oven and a toaster.
Often, kitchen faucets are difficult to operate because we can’t grip the handle. You can buy soft rubber covers to slip over these to increase their diameter. Use them. For even more ideas be sure to check gadgets that can help seniors more independent.
Make Bathroom more Senior-Friendly
Lighting and Color
A bathroom is another place where you need plenty of light. If we spend time grooming ourselves, we’ll increase our self-confidence and socialize more. Furthermore, make the bathroom a light airy place with splashes of bright, happy colors.
Store Items Within Reach
Mostly, we need items in a bathroom every day. There are many slippery surfaces and the rooms tend to be smaller than usual. So, have everything you need at the correct height for you. Don’t stretch or bend too much.
Add Toilet Safety Rails
Sitting down and standing up at the toilet can be a painful and difficult process if you suffer from mobility or balance issues. Install safety grab rails at the correct height to help you when you need to use the toilet. While you’re at it, don’t forget to put grab rails in the shower or above the bathtub.
Install a Shower Bench
When we use the shower, we stand on a dangerous and slippery surface. This isn’t easy, especially when our eyes are closed to protect against soap and shampoo. It’s much better to sit on a shower seat to wash. These come free standing or can be fitted to the wall.
Install a High Toilet
Seniors often find toilet seats too low for comfort, as worn hip joints make sitting difficult. Install a high toilet bowl or you can buy plastic extensions that sit on the existing toilet seat.
Use Non-slip Mats
Shower trays and bathtubs become very slippery when wet and become an accident waiting to happen. You can buy non-slip rubber mats to use in these places to make them safe once again.
Make Bedroom more Senior-Friendly
Install Lighting at Your door and Next to your Bed
Walking in the dark is very dangerous for a senior. There are plenty of things to knock against or trip over. Place a light switch at the doorway before you enter the room and another next to the bed.
Keep Frequently Used items Within easy Reach
When you’re in bed, you need everything to hand. Medication, a book, tv remote, radio, and phone must all be on the bedside table within easy reach. Have your slippers beside the bed and perhaps an extra blanket nearby.
Install Handrails on the Bed
Climbing in and out of bed can be difficult for a senior with mobility problems. Install safety bars for as much help as possible.
Adjust bed Height
A bed that’s too low or too high is very difficult to get into and out of. You can buy electrically operated beds that adjust the height from a remote control or you can ask a handyman to either reduce or increase the length of the bed’s legs.
Have a Portable Toilet in the Bedroom
Seniors often have problems with a weak bladder during sleep, needing many hurried trips to the bathroom. If you can’t easily walk, consider having a portable toilet in the bedroom.
Have a Medical Alert System Close By
If you wake up with a fever or other serious medical conditions, it’s a good idea to have someone you can contact in an emergency. Either install a purpose made medical alert system with a panic button or have emergency contacts programmed into your phone.
Make Living Room more Senior-Friendly
Make a Space to Move Around
Don’t make this room cluttered. Have plenty of space so you can walk easily, and so your visitors don’t feel crowded. Cluttered rooms can be as depressing as those that are too bare. Try to find a happy medium.
Have easy-to-use electronic equipment with simple remote controls. A universal remote is useful if you have a television, DVD player and streaming service. Have your phone within easy reach at all times.
Only have the furniture you need. Think of yourself and any friends who might drop by. You need your favorite chair, a couch, and a small coffee table. If you have room, use a display cupboard to show off all those memories you’ve accumulated over the years. I’m sure you can think of other items, but don’t have too many.
Easy to Clean
The most important consideration is probably being able to clean your living room and everywhere else. A dirty and cluttered house is depressing if you’re to be spending a lot of time in just a few rooms.
Make Stairs more Senior-Friendly
Stairs can be the most dangerous place for a senior. Ideally, move to a single floor house. But, if this isn’t possible, do everything you can to make them safe.
Increase the brightness of the lightbulbs and if possible paint the walls white.
Make the Steps Non-Slippery
Slippery steps are very dangerous, especially if you’re elderly. Ensure you have a good quality carpet that isn’t frayed or install non-slip pads on each tread.
All stairs should already have a handrail. But, if this isn’t enough, have one installed on the opposite wall.
Install Stairlifts and Stair Walkers
If you find stairs difficult, use an electrically operated stairlift. However, they’re expensive to install. Instead, you can also buy walkers designed for use on stairs that are very reasonably priced.
If you have problems lifting your legs the full height of a step, use ‘half steps’ instead. These are essentially a small platform on the end of a walking stick, which you carry with you as you climb up or down.
Your living space needs to be safe and comfortable, home modifications can help you with that. I am sure you discovered some helpful ideas on how to make it more senior friendly.