Nearly 10% of seniors have some type of osteoporosis. As you age your bones naturally lose calcium, the building blocks of strong bones. As a result, the bones weaken and become brittle. Because of this, a simple fall can turn into a painful event that requires surgery. Arthritis is another disease that affects many elderly people. Stiffness and joint pain can make it difficult to move around. Most seniors regardless of their state of health want to retain their independence and remain in their home. After all, their house is a place of comfort, fond memories and solace. The good news is that if you or someone you love lives with osteoporosis there are many things you can do to modify the home's interior and exterior to promote a safer environment.
Modifying the Home
If you have a parent or relative that has difficulty getting around, a simple walk to the bathroom at night can become challenging. Luckily, with a few modifications, you can create a safe environment. Placing night lights in the bedroom, hallway and bathroom will allow them to see clearly and adding a handrail in the hallway and a grab bar in the bathroom near the tub, shower and toilet will give them the extra security they need to move around successfully on their own. Adding non-skid mats in front of the sink and tub/shower will also help. If they live in a two-story home climbing the stairs can be almost impossible and something that they end up avoiding until absolutely necessary. Thankfully, this is a quick fix if their bedroom resides upstairs. Installing a chair lift will allow them to continue to use their second level without the need for climbing.
Older people tend to have a lot of stuff collected through the years. This can make it difficult for them to travel from one room to the next without bumping into things, especially if they use a cane or a walker. Widening doorways by removing furniture near the entrance will help to avoid a serious injury. Adding storage containers to hold their extra blankets and linens, seasonal items and hobbies and crafts can also free up a lot of space. Other accessories like a shoe rack for their footwear will not only prevent them from forming in a dangerous pile on the floor but, will also make them easier to view, remove and replace.
Many of the simple things that can contribute to a slip or a fall you often overlook like a shag rug or an area rug with a frayed edge or a turned up end that you walk over daily. Or, a loose floor vent, electrical cords for the television and computer or a shaking railing. These are just a few examples of the obvious items that you should check to make sure that they are secure. Outside, look for similar things such as a loose stone on the patio, a creaking step, and overgrown foliage.
If a family member is now in a wheelchair there are many more modifications to address. The kitchen and bathroom sinks and counters may be too high to reach on their own. The same applies to the cabinets in both locations. You can move the essentials to the lower shelves for easy access. However, the counters are a much bigger undertaking, which will require the services of a professional. Outside, adding a ramp that meets flush with the door jam will make it easy to leave and enter the home.
As seniors get older their bodies cannot absorb the results of even a minor slip and fall. Thankfully, if you know a loved one that wants to remain in their home, there are a lot of ways to create a safe place where they can live out the rest of their life in comfort.