Many seniors are living the life of their dreams in their homes and hope to stay there forever. In fact, it is said that 89% of older adults desire this. Living in their own homes, that is.
As family caregivers of our senior loved ones, we want that for them also since that’s what they want.
In order to remain comfortable and happy but most importantly safe, we need to be aware of the fitness of our senior loved ones homes. It often becomes our job to check things out and make the changes needed to be sure the homes are safe for the long haul.
Aging in Place Home Design
- Are there steps at the front door just to get in the house or steps to climb to go to bed at night or into the basement to do the laundry? Eventually, navigating steps will be difficult if not impossible for many seniors. There should be at least one convenient entry point into the house that has no steps.
- What dimensions are the front door and other important doors such as the bathroom? The entry door should be 36 inches wide and hallways 42 inches wide. Are the sidewalk and driveway free from broken and uneven spots that could result in falls?
- Are all electric outlets, switches, thermostats and other important electrical features in reach of someone in a seated position? If your senior uses a wheelchair in the future, can they reach what they need to reach?
- Are all handles lever-style, such as door handles, faucets, showers, etc. so they will be easily used by someone with physical immobility such as arthritis? Many handles and faucets are easy fixes that can be done by most do-it-yourselfers. Grab bars in key points, non-skid floors, raised toilet seats, and no-threshold shower entry should also be added to the to-do list. Do you need to install a hand held shower or shower bench now to prevent shower slips?
- Can the windows be opened easily at a level that is accessible? Modifications should be made to allow your senior to open the windows easily in case of emergency. Keep the windows clean to allow vision in and out. Do all the door and window locks work right?
- Are all areas well lit? Staircases, porches, basements, hallways, closets and dark corners should be lit to prevent accidents.
- Are any handrails loose? Are the porches and floors in good repair? Are there any potential areas where a slip, trip or fall may be inevitable and corrections made? Remove throw rugs, replace worn out carpet or loose tiles, repair any popped nails, make stair treads slip proof, and install way finding lights wherever needed.
- Does the front door have a peep hole to prevent opening it to strangers? Could a motion sensor light be installed to alert seniors when someone is approaching or turn on when they go out?
- Is the water heater set at 120 degrees or lower to prevent accidental scalding? Are all electrical appliances in good repair and free from frayed cords? Are all the light bulbs functioning?
- Is there a smoke detector installed and a fire extinguisher available? Have you checked the batteries in the smoke alarm lately? Do you need to install a block on the stove to prevent fires? Is there an exit plan known to all in case of emergency? Has anyone checked the dryer lint system to be sure it is free flowing as well as furnace/air conditioning filters?
- Are there any dangerous substances stored in places that can lead to trouble such as kerosene, paint or toxic cleaning chemicals?
- Do you have a first aid kit handy? Are there emergency supplies such as water, medications or batteries on hand if needed?
This is just the beginning of things to keep in mind. There are a multitude of other items to consider such as insulation, roof repair, gutter cleaning, bush trimming and other duties that can be scheduled with a handyman or company.
Some of these items are quick fixes and others may require remodeling to be sure that your senior’s home will stand up to the test of time. You will rest easy knowing that you have done all you can to keep your senior safe at home.
Check out our Home Seniorization Toolkit to help guide you in this process.