Post by Diane Kuehl
More and more retirees and elderly are choosing an aging-in-place route. What does this mean? At its core, aging in place is the ability to live in your home independently, regardless of age, with safety and comfort.
The key here is safety. We all want to feel safe in our homes, and the same is certainly true for the elderly. Here are a few friendly home improvement projects to help you or your elderly friend or family member live, and love, an independent lifestyle.
With age comes weakened eyesight. It’s natural. To combat this inevitability, there are a few different steps that can be taken around the home.
– Check out the house’s natural lighting. Are the windows blocked by drapes or window covering? Repositioning these allows more natural light into the house, which puts much less strain on the eyes. Note: Keeping the drapes or blinds on windows is definitely encouraged due to the excessive glare that can be caused without them. Glare can make it difficult for the elderly to differentiate between objects in the home.
– Also keep in mind that window blinds can be motorized to help keep the homeowner in control of their lightning situation without the hassle of tugging and pulling painful strings.
– Install extra wall lights or ceiling lights if there is extra space on the walls. This may require a few of those old paintings or wall art to come down, but in the end, it will be well worth it in the name of safety and comfort.
– Install sensor lights outside. These will turn on when the homeowner steps outside, providing extra visibility at night.
As people age, dexterity begins to fade, especially in the hands. This makes opening doors, turning on faucets, etc., increasingly difficult. But, replacing knobs that require a turning motion with levers that don’t require as much dexterity can make those tasks (turning on water, opening a door, etc.) much easier.
Adding rails or grab bars throughout the house will provide the homeowner with additional mobility as they get older. Handrails are crucial in the bathroom (specifically, the shower or bath). Handrails can also be added or replaced on the stairs for additional support.
Adding ramps to a house may not be the easiest of tasks, nor the most budget-friendly task, but it will ensure that the homeowner will have no trouble getting in, out and around their home with ease. These should be at least three-and-half feet wide to best accommodate wheelchairs or walkers. Typically, at least one is added to the entrance of a house, if needed.
– Add anti-scald devices to faucets to prevent serious burn injuries. This is also great for young children.
– Install mats or rugs throughout the home, while making sure to secure the loose edges and install non-slip backing on any non-permanent floor treatment.
– Be sure that sharp edges (on counters, tables, etc.) are rounded off or secured with “baby-proofing” material. Falls are the leading cause for senior-related injuries, so taking the time to make sure they won’t fall and hit something that could make their injuries even more life-threatening is imperative.
When planning home repairs or improvements for after retirement, it is important to think ahead. What will help when my mobility, vision and hearing start to decline? is a pertinent question for anyone thinking of upgrading their home for the elderly. Also know that many home improvements for the elderly are eligible to be paid for by the government in the form of grants.
Diane Kuehl is a freelance writer and DiY/home improvement enthusiast. Her own experience with her elderly grandfather has led her to advocate for senior citizen care.