The key to making your home easier to live in as you grow older is to simply plan ahead. A well thought out plan will make the transition easier when the time comes. For those of you reading this who want to provide home health care for yourself or a loved one, I will start with the basics.
Your most important goals should be to provide an environment for assisted living that provides high levels of safety and security while maintaining maximum levels of independence and overall satisfaction with your daily life. This may require some modifications to your home environment and a reevaluation of your daily responsibilities. Your assessment of your home’s environment to provide the above qualities of life will give you the plan you need and the peace of mind you desire.
Assisted living at whatever level in your home environment will require you to look at the following aspects of the home to make them safer:
- You should first identify a room on the first floor of the house that can be converted to an accessible bedroom. It could be a den or a dining room now and transformed in to a bedroom when needed.
- Entering and leaving the house in safety may require entrance ramps to be installed. You can also eliminate any impediments at doorways such as bumps or any type of raised threshold that would be potentially dangerous to someone using a walker or wheel chair.
- Think about widening doorways so that the minimum distance between doorframes is 36 inches or more. There are cost effective options to increase the width of doors and entrances you should look into. You can offset Z-shaped door hinges, remove the door frame completely, remove the door itself, or reverse the swing of the door.
- You can install door locks that are easy to operate such as keyless locks and locks with remote control. You can also install door knobs that are lever style or oval shaped for easier handling.
- Avoid deeply padded carpets which can cause a fall for someone with an unsteady gait. Throw rugs and scatter rugs should be tacked or nailed down so they do not move when stepped upon. Slippery floors of any kind should have a runner of some type to give a bnon-slip surface to walk upon/b.
- Steps can be a major challenge as you age. Ask yourself if the steps can be eliminated with ramps or winding walkways as a path to the front door. There is also equipment such as lifts that can be installed. If steps cannot be eliminated you must make sure all railings are safe and secure. Steps without railings are accidents waiting to happen. The railings must be strong enough to hold your entire weight if need be.
- Proper lighting is very important both inside and outside your home. Well lit rooms as well as well lit outdoor pathways are not only safer but can be a crime deterrent as well. Motion detectors can turn on lights outside when someone approaches. Consider installing lighted switch plates and rocker style light switches for ease of use. These can be turned on with your elbow if your hands are full.
These are just some of the basic and inexpensive steps you can take to make your home safer and give you the independence you desire. Assisted living can be managed easier and less expensively if you will implement these simple recommendations.
The two most dangerous rooms in your house are the bathroom and the kitchen. Bathrooms are the most notorious because this is where your greatest chances for slips and falls can occur. The kitchen is where the greatest chance for fire, burns and cuts can occur.