As we get older, we may find that our comfy, cozy home is not as safe and accessible as we need it to be. With age comes wisdom, but often comes limited mobility as well. Mobility devices can certainly help those with limited mobility safely move around their home. Many residences will be suitable for individuals who wish to age in place; however, some simple modifications may be necessary to improve safety and accessibility in and around the home. Here are a few quick and easy ways you can modify a home to increase safety and accessibility, and comfortably age in place without breaking the bank.
Increasing Safety and Accessibility Outside Your Home
• Sidewalks and paths around the home should be smooth, well-lit, and free of cracks or loose gravel to avoid potential trips and falls.
• At least one entrance should be wheelchair accessible. The residential ramps, mats, and plates at EZ-ACCESS® can help make virtually any entryway safe and accessible for cane, walker, scooter, and wheelchair users.
Reducing the Risk of Trips and Falls Inside Your Home
• While rugs may be beautiful and add color and warmth to your home, they are potential tripping hazards and can obstruct the movement of walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs. If removal is not an option, decorative rugs can be hung on a wall, and area rugs should be secured with grip tapes or rug pads.
• Rearrange sofas, tables, and shelves so that pathways are clear and wide enough to move about freely without tripping or bumping into furniture. Be sure to include extra space for wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
• Handrails are another important safety feature for seniors who want to age in place. They provide support and stability when navigating stairs or other areas of the home. Installing handrails is a simple and affordable modification that can greatly improve the safety and accessibility of a home.
• Use dimmable or motion-sensor lights to increase nighttime visibility in areas such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways.
Making Your Home Accessible for All
• Round doorknobs are not necessarily designed with older adults in mind. You may wish to replace hard-to-grasp doorknobs with lever-style door handles as these are easier to use. If replacement isn’t an option, consider purchasing some rubberized doorknob extensions that slip right over round knobs, converting them into lever-style handles.
• As we age, our strength, mobility, balance, coordination, and height may decrease, making it more difficult to reach high countertops and cabinets. Lowering countertops and cabinets and installing pull-down shelves can greatly improve accessibility and convenience in the kitchen. This can be done by installing new countertops and cabinets or by modifying existing ones.
• Staircases can be a major obstacle for seniors who want to age in place. Installing a stair lift can greatly improve accessibility and safety in multi-level homes. While stair lifts can be expensive, there are many affordable options available that can be customized to fit a variety of budgets and needs.
• Stepping up or down into certain areas of the home can greatly impact mobility device users. If space allows, consider adding a portable ramp or a modular entry mat to allow access to all areas of the home.
Making Your Bathrooms Safer While Maintaining Independence and Privacy
• Avoid the use of bathmats, if possible, as they tend to slip around easily on bathroom tile. If bathmats are still used, be sure to secure them with grip tape.
• Install grab bars to increase safety while getting on and off the commode. Make sure they are installed securely, ideally by anchoring them into studs. Avoid cheap tape-on or suction cup options, as these are not intended for long-term use and can be disasters waiting to happen.
• Standard toilet heights measure about 15 inches from floor to seat. Adding a few inches to the height of toilet seats in your home will make it easier for those with limited mobility to get on and off the commode. There is a quick and simple way to solve this problem. The EZ-ACCESS TILT® Toilet Incline Lift not only adds height to the toilet seat, but it also assists the user by raising and lowering the seat with the push of a button.
• There are many options to increase safety and accessibility in your shower, and the options depend on the style of shower you have in your home.
o For most shower styles, including shower/ bathtub combos: A stool can be helpful in facilitating showering while seated. Multi-level showerheads are also a must for seated showering. For an added level of safety and slip protection, affix anti-slip bath and shower grips to the floor inside and outside the shower. Be sure to include shower rails as well to aid in entering and exiting the shower and moving between seated and standing positions.
o For walk-in showers with a low lip: The TRANSITIONS® Modular Entry Mat provides a smooth incline to overcome shower lips up to 2 ½inches (or higher if your space can accommodate additional mats with risers).These rubber mats are naturally slip resistant and waterproof and are the perfect solution to make your shower wheelchair-accessible or simply to help reduce the risk of trips and falls.
Aging in place is becoming increasingly popular among those who want to remain in their own homes as they age. Fortunately, there are many budget-friendly home modifications that can help seniors age in place safely and comfortably. From adding ramps and threshold mats to installing non-slip flooring and improving lighting, there are numerous simple and affordable home modifications that can greatly improve the safety and accessibility of a home. If you or a loved one are considering modifying a home to make aging in place a possibility, consider consulting with a professional who can help you determine your specific needs and recommend the best modifications to fit your home and budget. Contact one of the knowledgeable representatives at EZ-ACCESS today to get started!