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Creating a Senior Friendly Home

two clients opening a door
By Michael Riley

Whether they are small changes, or big ones, there are things you can do to make your home – or your parent’s home more accommodating as they age. As medical knowledge advances, and our understanding of health and safety broadens, it means we live longer and end up needing more care as we advance in our years. There are many families that struggle with attempting to figure out the best way to help their relative or loved one as they age.

Who wouldn’t want to spend as much time aging in their own home if possible? We’ve worked our whole lives for our homes, and all of the memories contained in them, it only makes sense that we would want to be there for as long as possible. The problem is that the homes we purchase when we are in our 30’s or 40’s aren’t always exactly senior friendly. This means that the home that your parent or loved one is in should have step-free entryways, a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor of the home, and accessibility features such as grab bars or shower seats.

It may seem like making these changes is admitting that your loved one is weaker, or somehow putting them in a place where their dignity is somehow lessened; but adapting a home to accommodate the needs of your loved one is something that can help them stay safe and feel more independent since they will need less oversight. There are some great agencies that specialize in home safety checks, and while the accommodations may not always be easy, there are ways to make them blend into the décor and appeal of the home.

Reasons You May Want to Create a Senior Friendly Home

One of the biggest risks as we age is falling according to the AARP, it can cause millions of injuries and almost 32,000 deaths a year. Fortunately, some of the simplest adjustments, and most inexpensive, can go a long way towards reducing that single risk.

Inexpensive and Simple Changes You Can Make:

  • Apply no-slip strips that are textured that is taped to the bathtub or shower floor
  • Nonslip wax for wooden or linoleum floors to prevent sliding
  • A waterproof chair, bench, or seat in the shower for better stability
  • Making sure all bathmats are rubber-backed
  • Textured nonskid treads on steps leading outside so that there are less chances of tripping
  • Removing small rugs so that their curled edges don’t cause a fall
  • Replacing chairs that have wheels so that they don’t give way when grabbed for steadiness
  • Swapping out doorknobs for lever handles
  • Replacing a toilet with a raised or higher-profile version so that it is easier to get up

More Expensive Changes You May Need to Prepare For:

  • Altering the bathtub or shower so that it has an easier step-over entry
  • Zero-threshold entryways that prevent stubbed toes and accidental falls
  • Moving light switches and shelving for easier access from a wheelchair or bed
  • Widening doorways, hallways, or access points to the home
  • Adding rooms or bathrooms to the first floor and constructing ramps or otherwise if there are steps inside the home

Financial Assistance Available

There are both local and state programs available for financial assistance with some retrofits to homes, for adding things such as grab bars, so do a Google search and check into local service agencies who are able to lend out equipment like ramps or wheelchairs. Unfortunately, Medicaid doesn’t often cover retrofits, but there are some Medicare Advantage plans that do help with things like shower grips and safety devices that help with preventing falls or widening hallways.

Regardless of your budget, there are several different options available to help you or a loved one as you navigate the needs that keep everyone safe. If you start early enough, you may be able to spread the cost out so that you aren’t having to do it all at once.

The reality is that there comes a time where your parent’s needs may be more than you can handle and it becomes safer for them to be in an environment where you can simply enjoy being with them again, instead of having to constantly worry about the care they need. Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Charlotte is here for you. It is always a privilege to provide our clients with compassionate and professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.