You love your home, but it may not be adequately prepared for you to live in as you age. Ageing individuals have specific needs for their safety as balance and other abilities shift. A house that is not equipped to provide for these new needs may not be safe for ageing adults to live in alone.
Fortunately, there are fixes, some big and some small, that you can undertake to make your home safe for you at all stages of life. While planning ahead for changing needs is not on many people’s minds, it is the best way for you to maintain your independence and control over your setting as you age.
Here are some changes that you should consider making to your home in order to ‘future-proof’ it:
- Mind the stairs
Homes with multiple levels or uneven floor plans in which some rooms are divided by a few steps can pose a hazard to elderly individuals. Loss of mobility makes navigating staircases difficult. There are several ways to handle this:
- Install railings and ramps
Make sure all stairs, even sets of just a few steps, are equipped with a sturdy railing. You might also consult with a contractor to see if uneven floor plans can either be levelled out or if ramps can be installed in the place of a few steps. This will ensure that space is still viable should you ever need a wheelchair.
- Install a stairlift
For large sets of stairs, a stair lift, which is a mechanical seat installed into a set of rails on the wall, is a great option. Stairlifts make it possible for elderly individuals to move between floors when mobility or shortness of breath become a real problem.
- Relocate everything you need on the ground level
Railings, stairlifts and other fixes may not be enough. For instance, eventually, you may need help getting onto and off of the stairlift. Making sure a bedroom, bathroom with shower facilities, and kitchen are all on the ground floor can contribute greatly to ease of care.
- Age-proof your bathrooms.
The bathroom can be another difficult area for ageing individuals when both mobility and balance become compromised. The following fixes can help:
- Add railings to the bathroom
Railings in the bathroom can help with a number of issues. As balance declines, navigating potentially slippery bathroom floors can be hazardous. Getting into and out of the tub or shower can also be problematic. Railings can provide extra stability in these cases. Loss of strength can also make it difficult to lower down onto and get up off of the toilet. A railing near the toilet area can help provide additional leverage in this instance
- Use nonslip mats
You may also want to consider acquiring or upgrading nonslip mats for the floor of the shower or bathtub. Nonslip mats are also available for space outside of the shower or tub to prevent any pooling of water from causing a fall.
- Install a level access shower
If you are serious about living in your home into advanced age, a level access shower – one that has no lipping or barrier – can be a huge advantage. This style of shower, also known as a wet room, typically features a large drain in the floor and can be used with or without a curtain. They enable wheelchair use, make it easier for homecare assistants to assist with bathing, and also eliminate the difficulties of getting in and out of a bathtub.
More quick tips
Stairs and bathrooms are the primary spaces that require age-proofing. But there are some other quick fixes you can utilize to improve your home for the requirements of old age.
- Improve the lighting by adding more lamps to spaces or installing brighter overhead lighting. Make sure switches are easily accessible with minimal movement.
- Address any fall hazards such as furniture that jut out, anything that impedes regular walkways and carpeting that slips, crinkles up or shifts.
- Re-organize your storage so that everything you need is easily within your reach, eliminating the need for step stools.
With some careful planning and a little investment, it is possible to keep your home comfortable and accessible as you age. Plan for larger fixes that address the stairs and bathrooms, and then focus on the smaller details that you can change to facilitate ease of use. Remember, making these changes can make a huge difference and can help you to stay in your home into old age.
About the Author: Kevin Norris has always enjoyed helping others. While working for Ease of Mobility, he has enjoyed creating living solutions for the elderly and those with mobility issues like himself. Ease of Mobility is a caring company that provides mobility aids such as wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and more. When Kevin isn’t using his experience with a wheelchair to help clients, he is playing basketball or cooking.