Aging in place is far less expensive than most people realize. Moving a healthy older relative into assisted living is often emotionally devastating—loss of independence and parting with possessions being major issues.
There are three major issues that make homes harmful to the over 65 crowd. When these issues are taken care of, it is possible for seniors to spend most, if not all, of their remaining years in their own home. If you can address the following issues, you can rest assured that your older relative is living in an injury resistant milieu that supports their safe independence.
Here Are The 3 Things I Have Discovered Cause The Most Difficulties.
Bath tubs—Replace the old tub with a walk in bathtub.
I grew up in a time when water wasn’t a concern. Even when it became one, we shared the water until we couldn’t see the bottom of the tub anymore. Most seniors remember the tranquility that soaking in a heated bath tub brings, but many give up their baths for fear of falling. When they overcome their fear, they face climbing into and out of the tub as the most precarious movement of their day. If they lose their balance, will they be able to recover their balance?
Their fears are justified. According to various stats, 30% of all seniors experience a tumble while accessing their tub. Even in this day of hip replacement, 20% of the seniors who break the hip, die within a year. So what is the solution? Give up baths?
Safer® walk in bathtubs are the contemporary solution to an increasingly important need—safety in the bathroom. These walk in tubs let you open a door and stroll into the tub instead of climbing over the side. The possibility of falling is decidedly abridged.
A walk in tub is one of the greatest strategies ever for creating harmless surroundings that support your older relative. And you don’t have to sacrifice style for function. There are many eye-catching configurations to select. Most fit inside the same opening as the regular bath tub you will be replacing.
Steps—If they are too steep or irregular, they are a hazard.
Many older houses possess steps that aren’t building code compliant. In days gone by, no one knew how important ergonomics were. There weren’t as many people living as long. Now we know that even if you can’t have stairs that are 6-3/4” high by 11” deep, consistent stair height and depth is very important for safety.
If your older relative has steep stairs with a shallow tread in their home, overhauling the stairs is more than an investment in safety; it is an investment in the value of the home. Stairs that enter the home are just as important as stairs inside the home.
Another concern involves stairs and vision. Many a senior stumbles climbing up the steps or else lurches forward going down because they miss think the step is in a different place. Depth comprehension and the ability to see subtle color differences decreases with age. If you don’t see a color difference when you squint your eyes, a senior probably won’t either. Consider whether your relative is color blind. Some colors will appear gray, even if they appear sharply contrasted to you. White vs. black, light vs. dark are safer than two coordinating colors.
When the steps aren’t carpeted, attach a slip-proof strip along the front of each stair. If the steps are carpeted, look into using two coordinating but contrasting colors, one meant for the riser and the other meant for the step.
Irregular floors—Uneven surfaces cause trip and fall accidents.
Uneven floor surfaces are additionally precarious for a person over 65 years old. The facility for staying upright when we trip goes down as we age. Removing any irregularities not only improves the appearance of the home, it contributes significantly to the harmless atmosphere seniors need around them.
Look for loose carpet. It isn’t uncommon for a carpet to need re-stretching after a few years use. One of the prominent signs a carpet needs to be re-stretched is a series of wrinkles going across the room.
Look for loose boards. If the flooring has warped, plane or sand the ridges down. If this exposes the tongues that hold the flooring in place, you can keep the current flooring going for a few more years. Countersink screws into the boards to secure them and install plugs to cover the screws. Then refinish the entire floor with a semi-gloss diamond coat Varathane®.
If the entire floor is in poor condition, consider laying down a new floor entirely. Once again, you will be investing in the resale value of the home.
There are of course many other ways you can contribute to a harmless home environment, but these three are the most significant changes.