Aging in Place: How to Prepare Your Home for Safety
by Kent Elliot
Aging in place is the goal for most retirees. Nobody likes the idea of spending the rest of their years in an assisted living facility. We want to stay in our familiar environment where we can be surrounded by family and friends. However, your average home isn’t build with aging in place in mind. There are several accessibility features seniors need to enable a safe lifestyle. The following advice is for older adults who are curious about renovating their homes in order to facilitate aging in place safely.
Bathroom Safety Renovations for Seniors
The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house, especially for seniors. The conditions put people at risk for falls, which can be dangerous and even deadly for people over the age of 60. To make the bathroom safer, install grab bars by the toilet and tub that can help seniors get up with ease. A shower bench along with an extendable shower head can make bathing easier and safer, as well. Furthermore, slip-proof flooring can prevent accidents and injury. Cork floors are soft and slip-resistant, but it is easily damaged by water. Rubber and vinyl floors are better flooring options that can stand up to the elements found in the bathroom. Burns aren’t really an injury we associate with the bathroom, but hot water can do serious damage to a senior’s skin. Prevent burns by limiting the maximum temperature on the hot water heater and clearly labeling faucets so seniors can’t get confused about which temperature they are turning on the tap.
Stair and Step Safety
Safety ramps are generally considered accessibility features for those who need to use mobility aids such as wheelchairs or walkers. However, even if a senior doesn’t use a mobility aid regularly, a safety ramp over stairs can facilitate safe living for aging in place. Steps are tricky and can easily cause harmful falls. A safety ramp complete with slip-proof treads and handrails can make the whole process easier on a senior so they can get around the house with peace of mind. If building your own, make sure the ramp is at a gentle 1:20 slope for ease of use.
Being able to safely prepare one’s own meals is a cornerstone of independent living. A kitchen that facilitates aging in place keeps this fact in mind. Make a kitchen more accessible by removing essential items from high reaching cabinets and reorganizing to keep things closer to the ground. Installing a kitchen island is a great way to add more accessible storage while providing seniors with surface area for food preparation. Finally, consider installing slip-proof flooring, as in the bathroom. Moisture in the kitchen is just as common and can lead to dangerous falls and injury.
Is Relocating Right for Retirees Aging in Place?
While a lot of seniors don’t like the idea of leaving their homes, many people can’t age in place safely in the house they raised their families in. Family-friendly homes are often very large and contain multiple stories. Downsizing to a smaller house in retirement cuts down on the maintenance and makes aging in place more manageable. Plus, downsizing can free up some cash that can contribute to a retiree’s nest egg. An accessible home in McKinney, TX typically sells for around $389K, less than the larger homes that accommodate growing families. When looking for accessible homes in your area, use a checklist to ensure a place has everything you are looking for. When looking online, use search filters to narrow results and save time.
Most seniors want to age in place, but it has to be done with safety in mind. The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house, so make it safer with handrails, shower benches, and slip-proof flooring. Stairs can be tricky to navigate. A safety ramp with a delicate slope helps seniors even if they don’t use a mobility aid. Of course, if a house is too big, it may make more sense to relocate. Finding an affordable and accessible home in your area can free up cash to contribute to your nest egg. Weigh your options and make decisions that allow you to live the rest of your life safe, happy, and healthy.
Summer is on its way, so remember:
1) Stay hydrated! It's easy to get dehydrated in the hot Texas sun.
2) Remember water safety - an adult should supervise kids when they swim, avoid alcohol while swimming and boating, and wear your life jacket in the boat at all times.
3) Wear your sunscreen - spf 30 at least - and reapply every hour.
4) Wear your shades and a hat when you can!
5) Have a blast!!!
As we head into spring, remember these tips:
1. If you have allergies (runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy eyes), be sure to take your allergy medicine, and see your doctor if your symptoms don't improve. You may try some local honey as well.
2. When you're cleaning up your yard, watch for snakes and poison ivy. Copperhead snakes are the same color as the fallen leaves. Poison ivy likes shady areas.
3. Wear your sunscreen and bug spray. The days are cool, but the sun's UV rays are still powerful. The mosquitoes are already out - they tend to like mornings and evenings the best.
4. When you go outside to exercise, drink plenty of water, and start out slow if you're just getting back into it.
5. Wear eye and ear protection when you're mowing the grass.
Most of all - get out there and have some fun!!
Take time to be creative! I recently joined the McKinney Art Studio for pottery classes. The classes have become my weekly refuge from a hectic life of doctoring and mothering. It feels so therapeutic to shape something beautiful from a piece of clay! I want to thank my instructor, Lisa, for walking me through every step and making me do it right! I'm 5 bowls, 1 cup, 1 slab, and 1 coil into becoming a potter! Don't worry; I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon... :-)
Hello everyone! Here's a tip from my mother, Pat, a former astronomy teacher. Put a white sheet under a tree and you'll see little suns projected onto the sheet. This is a great safe way to "view" the solar eclipse! Happy viewing!
I found these guys a few months ago. Since then, I've listened to many of their podcasts and read several essays. I really like this one! I hope you enjoy it as well!
A big "Thank you!" to Mrs. H for making this beautiful flower arrangement for the office today! Kisha and I are forever grateful for our amazing patients!! Thank you again! You made our day :-)
Dr. Zomnir is a family doctor who has chosen to step out of the fray and care for patients with love and compassion.