Many senior citizens prefer to remain in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible. The fond memories of raising a family, the comfort of the familiar environment, and their appreciation of the neighborhood are all good reasons for doing so.
There can be challenges with remaining in a home, however, as you age. Your needs may have changed since you bought the home decades ago. You may not be able to do the same things that you could back when you were young and vibrant. You may have limited mobility, declining health conditions, and a lower energy level that restricts your everyday activities.
Seniors often need the assistance of walkers, wheelchairs, or other apparatuses to aid them.
It can be more difficult climbing stairs, reaching items in high places, or even stepping into a bathtub. But don’t despair–there are some modifications that can be made to accommodate your lifestyle and allow you to age in place safely and securely.
Changes Needed to Make Your Home Senior-Friendly
As we age, we are more concerned about being able to maneuver around and avoid injuries. Hopefully, the following suggestions for making some changes to your home can make it a safer place to live and allow you to remain living there a lot longer.
1. Walk-in Tubs/Showers
Younger people may not even consider how difficult it can be for someone to lift their legs over a four-foot-high bathtub. Arthritis, injuries, or other maladies can greatly limit this ability for some individuals. This difficulty can result in falls and broken bones by slipping or tripping over the tub, which can be devastating for the elderly.
A walk-in tub or shower enables you to simply open a door and enter the tub or shower without climbing over the tub wall. There are many different styles and features available, so you can choose the ones that you need and want. Some include advanced hydrotherapy capabilities, which can soothe aches and pains. Others have showers attached for rinsing. These fixtures are constructed with safety and comfort in mind.
Does your home have more than one story? Or is it a ranch with a basement that you access often or even occasionally? It can be difficult and even painful for some older people to climb stairs. If you need to reach another level, consider having a chairlift installed. It can be an affordable option to staying in your home.
Speaking of stairs, if you have any steps leading up to your home or within it, ensure there are enough handrails on them. Installing a handrail on both sides of of the stairs can help considerably with stability and prevent falls.
Also, speaking of bathtubs and showers, a grab bar inside and outside a tub or shower can provide additional support and stability. These are inexpensive solutions that can literally save your life.
4. Move Your Master Suite
Another alternative to getting around stair-climbing is to move your master bedroom to the main level. You can convert an existing dining room, family room, or even the living room into a more accessible bedroom. No more trudging up and down the stairs to go to bed, put away clothes, clean and vacuum, etc. You can even close off the HVAC vents to the upper level to save on utilities!
If you already have a full bath on the main floor, you’re set as long as it meets your needs (see number 1 above). If not, a half bath can be extended to include that walk-in tub or shower. If you have no main floor bathroom, it may be more involved, but a good reputable contractor can give you some ideas and solutions.
As we age, so do our eyes. It’s more difficult to focus and see obstacles in our way if the area is dim. Adequate lighting that is strategically placed can help you see things more clearly and reduce glare. It can help you get around better without injuries or falls. You may even opt for motion-sensored lighting that automatically turns on when you approach the area. In situations where you have an armload of laundry or groceries, there’s no need to reach out for the light switch, risking a fall from the imbalance.
If you use a wheelchair or have trouble with climbing stairs, getting a ramp installed outdoors can make it easier and safer to get around. Don’t just slap a two-by-four over the steps, though; the last thing you want and need is for it to break or slip while your on it! Have a professional install one for you to ensure it is secure and meets specifications.
Some types of flooring can present risks for tripping and injuries. Throw rugs that bunch up should be either securely adhered to the floor or removed. Flooring that is firm and non-slippery is the best for mobility and safety. Wood, vinyl, bamboo, or low-level carpeting are good choices. Just make sure you don’t apply cleaners or waxes that can increase the slipperiness of the surfaces.
Hopefully, these tips will help you remain in place longer as you age comfortably and securely. If you’re looking for a reputable and experienced remodeling company to implement some of these renovations, call on Finnteriors Construction Services. Locally owned and operated, we’ve been in business for over 30 years remodeling St. Louis area homes. Contact us today for a free consultation to get started.