Home Modifications for Aging in Place
Posted on by Chris Frombach
2014 saw the largest number of elderly – 44.7 million – ever in the United States. This number represented 14.1% of the entire US population (www.aoa.acl.gov) and is expected to increase by ⅓ by 2040. And, like most who are in this age category, with advancing age comes the realization that living like we did in our younger years may be more challenging than we would like.
Home modifications for elderly individuals can help make their current living environment safer and more functional. These changes can be rather simple, and will allow you or a loved one to maintain a certain level of independent living. The below modifications can help make aging in place easier for individuals who wish to stay living in their current home.
Bathroom Safety Modifications
The bathroom is where most accidents occur in the home. Why? Small footprint, potentially slippery conditions, and the need to move in many planes (e.g., over a tub, up and down off of the toilet).
Easy bathroom modifications include placement of a rubber backed mat outside of the tub, a non-slip mat inside the tub, or installing bulbs with more lumens. More advanced modifications can include:
- Removal of a vanity in favor of an open based sink
- Replacement of a bathtub with a roll-in shower or barrier free tub
- Adding grab bars or other accessories that make it safer to move about the room safely
Living Room Safety Modifications
The living room could be the most “lived in” room in the house so mobility solutions can help this room be more comfortable. Modifications here may include:
- Removal of any throw rugs that may cause tripping
- Making sure that there are no humps in wall to wall carpet
- Ensuring that the furniture is at a good height for ease of sitting and standing
Other modifications include making sure that there is adequate lighting, minimizing or eliminating extension cords and control systems for home automation (www.crestron.com).
Kitchen Safety Modifications
Where do we all congregate during parties and family get-togethers? Kitchen spaces can vary widely in design, shape and amount of space making for potentially difficulty in navigating and functioning. Kitchen modifications for elderly and individuals with disabilities can increase safety, accessibility, and independence.
Watch out for slippery floors here as well. Easy modifications include moving more frequently utilized items within closer reach than those less frequently used as well as purchasing items such as OXO Good Grips products that make preparation of foods less taxing on joints (www.oxo.com). More advanced modifications can include pop up shelves in cabinets and auto-sensing faucets that eliminate the need to turn water on and off.
Bedroom Safety Modifications
It’s where we all retire to at the end of a long day, but it can be potentially hazardous without the right modifications.
- Ensure that the height of the bed is appropriate for ease of entry and egress
- Place frequently used clothing in drawers at hip height to minimize bending
- If you have a larger closet, consider removing items from bureaus and placing them in closet storage organizers that are open and easy to see and retrieve
While the effects of aging are something that we all will have to consider at some point, it doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right planning and preparation, you can live in your home safely for many years to come!
Interested in a free home assessment to ensure every room in your house is safe and accessible? One of our trusted and expert technicians is happy to assist.