August 21st is senior citizens’ days, and what better way to celebrate our parents and grandparents than by taking them out for ice cream, going to a movie, and making sure their home is as safe as it can be?
What does these activities have in common?
They are all about senior care and showing appreciation for our loved ones.
Many seniors’ homes haven’t been updated for safety, and perhaps some senior citizens choose not to make the updates while others simply can’t. As their children and grandchildren, whom they raised, cared for, and spoiled, it’s up to us to make sure their homes can take care of them when we aren’t there.
If you currently have the responsibility for senior care or are thinking about a few years in the future, then start to think about senior home modifications now.
“To get the biggest bang for your buck, start early and adopt a long-term approach. Every time you make a change, replacement, or improvement to something around your home, look at the project as an opportunity to make the home a partner in your quest for long-term independence.”
Here is a list of some changes to consider when making repairs and home modifications to your home or parents’ home to help with senior care. Also, check out this interactive home safety guide that shows what to look for in each room!
Install a Stair Lift
One of the greatest hazards senior citizens face is the stairs. Some simply can’t make it up and are forced to confine themselves to the lower floors of their home. Others may try to use the stairs and end up falling, which can lead to serious injury.
Installing a stair lift will keep them safe and allow them the freedom and independence of moving about their entire home.
Another area for potential hazards is the bathroom. These rooms are basically the equivalent of the olympics for some seniors. Climbing over tub sides, balancing in a wet shower, getting up from the toilet with nothing to aide their standing; all of these things are hard, and oftentimes dangerous, for seniors.
To make the bathroom safer try things like grab rails for the shower and toilet, a shower seat in the tub, and non-slip bath mats to name a few. It is also good to make sure any medications they are taking are easily accessible and not on a shelf that is too far out of their reach.
For a more complete list check out these bathroom safety modifications.
Bed Rails and Adjustable Beds
Getting in and out of bed can be difficult for anyone, but it’s especially hard on seniors. Sitting up or down, pushing up and into a standing position, even sleeping without rolling out of bed can be a problem.
In order to ensure the safety and comfort of your parents and grandparents take a look at their bed. Does it need bed rails to help them get in and out of bed? Or would it be more efficient to buy an adjustable bed? These are small investments that could mean the safety and independence of the senior citizen in your life.
Just as it can be hard to get in and out of bed, some seniors made find they have difficulty getting in and out of their living room chair. Rather than having them rely on a not-always-reliable cane or their ability to fight gravity, the addition of a lift recliner to the living room may be a wise decision.
These chairs gently rise, lifting and tipping forward until the person seated can ease themselves onto their feet. It is a clever way to keep your parent or grandparent feeling independent and popular with the grandkids who want to go for a ride.
Door knobs and Cabinet handles
Little changes can make a huge difference in the lives of seniors. Door knobs that need to be twisted to open can cause pain in seniors with arthritis or other joint issues. Switching to lever door knobs can alleviate this strain on their joints.
The same can be said for cabinet and drawer handles. Knobs, which need to be grabbed or pinched by the fingers and hand, can be painful, but replacing those knobs with C or D shaped handles make opening cabinets and drawers that much easier.
Lighting and Switches
Making sure there is adequate lighting in their home will help keep them safe, as this could help prevent falls. Have an electrician come to their home and do an inspection. See if you can put in baseboard lighting, dimmers, and new light switches. Much the same way changing door knobs can be good for their joints and hands, changing light switches from switches or pushbuttons to one of the many types of dimmers can be easier on their hands.
A few additional lights will go a long way to help improve senior care in any home or residence.
Unstable rugs and uneven floors or carpets pose serious hazards to anyone, but especially seniors, because falling is one of the most detrimental problems seniors face while living alone. Ensure there are no loose rugs whenever you visit as well to improve your parents well-being and senior care.
Prevent falling in the home by ensuring area rugs are secured with non-slip grips. Make sure that carpets have no tears or holes, and that wood flooring is even with no buckled wood or loose floorboards.
Falling can occur outside the home as well, but while their daily outings are out of your control, how they get in and out of their home is not. Stairs can be hazardous especially if seniors are carrying bags or walking a pet. Maintain the safety of your loved ones by having a ramp installed.
There are a number of different kinds of ramps, from metal, to fashionable and fancy wood, to threshold ramps for those who need only to get through their door without tripping. Ramps are good for wheelchairs, canes, or simply avoiding the use of stairs.
Finally, help maintain the safety of your parents and grandparents by investing in an alert system. They can have the freedom of living in their home, without nurses if they choose, but you can feel better knowing that with the touch of a button, your loved ones can call for help if they need to. Falls and accidents that prevent them from getting to a phone could mean being stuck on the floor, possibly hurt, with no way of getting help. But, an alert system would allow them to call for help without needing the phone.
Many seniors would prefer to remain in their homes, as opposed to living in an assisted living nursing home. By making a few modifications, it is possible for them to keep their independence, and for you to keep your peace of mind!
Remember that prevention goes a long way.
“An overwhelming majority of ER doctors (100% in the U.S. and 99% in Canada), adult children (85% in the U.S. and 84% in Canada), and seniors (94% in the U.S. and 97% in Canada) agree that falls are the most common home accidents for older adults.”
The good news: 100% of ER doctors agree that annual home safety check is very important to a senior’s home safety.
We hope these DIY home modifications help any senior care needs to keep your loved ones stay safe!