Over the past decade, it’s become increasingly popular for our aging loved ones to choose to age gracefully in their own homes instead of relocate to assisted living facilities or nursing homes. In fact, according to an AARP survey from April 2014, 87 percent of adults ages 65 and older “want to stay in their current home and community as they age.”
The fact still remains, however, that certain dangers can be lurking in your home as your body continues to age. In order to ensure the safety of your loved ones, here are some suggested home modifications for aging family members.
1. Think About Light.
The light in your home can make a big difference as you age and help reduce the potential for slips, trips and falls. During the day, make sure to open blinds or curtains all the way to let in as much natural light as possible. At night, keep a nightlight in areas that might get regular traffic, like the bedroom and bathroom. You also might consider placing lighting strips on the stairs to help your loved one navigate the different floors of the house without fear of losing his or her footing.
2. Safety First.
Make sure every room in your loved one’s house has working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Safe Sound Family recommends placing “a CO detector in each major area of your home: in the kitchen, in your living/dining room, in your bedrooms, and the office.” Also, be sure to keep a fire extinguisher within arm’s reach in the kitchen in case of fire.
3. Don’t Forget the Bathroom.
The bathroom holds a lot of hidden dangers for an aging body; therefore, it’s important to take extra precautions to avoid accidents. It might take some extra work to make the bathroom safe for aging family members, but it will save you money and heartache in the long term. Install a sturdy waterproof seat in the bathtub or shower to have the option of sitting down while bathing, along with an adjustable hand-held showerhead to assist with bathing in a seated position. It’s also recommended to install a grab bar next to the toilet and tub, or inside the shower. Should your loved one ever lose his or her balance while bathing, these grab bars can potentially save a life.
It’s never too early to start planning for the future. In addition to making modifications to parts of your loved one’s home to better accommodate aging, this would be a good time to start researching the services Right at Home provides so you know how to find a helping hand when you need it.
Hilary Young is a writer dedicated to helping older Americans live healthier, more fulfilling lives. She currently blogs for HuffPost50, Fifty Is The New Fifty and BlogHer. You can find her on Twitter as @hyoungcreative.