Making a home safe for an older person is a huge undertaking, but it is well worth the effort. According to the National Institute of Aging, 90% of people over 65 want to stay in their homes as they age. However, only about 25% of people over 65 actually do. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the biggest reasons is that many older adults feel they can’t live safely in their own homes.
This article will provide you with practical steps you can take to make your home safer for an older person, helping them to live in their own home longer and with less risk of injury or accident.
Install Fire and Smoke Alarms
Smoke travels much faster than flames, so having working smoke alarms in your home is crucial. It’s recommended that you have a smoke alarm on every level of your home, as well as in each bedroom. You should also test your smoke alarms monthly to make sure they’re working correctly.
These alarms are excellent additions because they can help alert you and your loved one of a potential fire hazard before it becomes too dangerous. You should also have a plan in place in case of a fire, such as having an exit strategy and meeting place.
Upgrade the Bathroom
The bathroom can become a dangerous place since it’s full of slippery surfaces. Consider installing a walk-in tub or a shower seat in the bathroom. This can help prevent falls, which are one of the leading causes of injury in older adults.
You should also install grab bars near the toilet and in the shower. Ensure there is plenty of lighting in the bathroom, both natural and artificial. Night lights can also be helpful for getting around at night.
Choose a Safe Flooring Material
Slipping and falling is another leading cause of injury in older adults. One way to reduce the risk of falls is to choose a safe flooring material. Carpets and rugs provide more traction. On the other hand, Tiles and linoleum are slippery, so it’s best to avoid them.
Another option is to use non-slip adhesive strips on slick surfaces. When choosing a flooring material for your home, be sure to select one that is safe and easy to walk on. You can also choose rugs with a rubber backing to help prevent slips and falls.
Maintain Clear Walkways and Stairs
Keep the walkways and stairs in your home clear of clutter and obstacles. This will help to ensure that your loved one can move around safely without having to worry about tripping or slipping. If your home has rugs, be sure to place them in areas that are easy to walk on.
Accommodate Mobility Impairments
If your loved one has any mobility impairments, be sure to make accommodations for them in the home. This might include installing a stairlift or widening doorways to accommodate a wheelchair. Handrails can be helpful for both getting around the house and going up and down the stairs. Be sure to install them on both sides of any staircases in your home. It is also important to upgrade the outside entrances to the home.
In addition, older individuals should exercise as they age, to build strength in their supporting muscles, especially if they are disabled. Keep in mind that according to census data, the percentage of the over 65 populations with disabilities increases as they get older. Of those reaching their 90’s who are not in nursing homes, over 80% had one or more disabilities.
Making your home safe for an older person is a big task, but it’s one that is well worth the effort. By taking some simple steps and increasing senior home safety, you can help your loved one to stay in their own home longer and with less risk of injury.
Implementing these changes will give you both peace of mind. Keep these tips in mind as you work to make your home safe for an aging loved one.