Make your home safe for every generation
July 28, 2010
Most of us start life depending on our parents to take care of us. But as they age, chances are the roles will reverse. And, whether you provide additional help in their own homes – or move aging parents into your home – how do you prepare to meet the new needs of aging adults?
Luckily many simple, quick, affordable – and even stylish and savvy – updates can make homes safer and more enjoyable for you, your family and your parents.
• De-clutter: Both kids and older adults have reduced reflexes and balance. Spruce up the look of your home – and avoid tripping hazards – by removing clutter and items you no longer use (especially obstacles in walkways).
• Safe shower: Showers can be an enjoyable and luxurious part of anyone’s day – if they are safe. While you probably don’t want to renovate the shower, simple additions of bath safety products can make it safer and more enjoyable. Start by adding rubber grips to the bottom of the shower to avoid slick surfaces. Next, take a seat with a comfortable shower chair and enjoy a shower massage with a multi-function hand held showerhead.
• Save resources, save money: Eco-friendly adjustments not only can make you feel good about preserving natural resources for your family, they can also help lower energy costs (ideal for tight budgets). Simple steps can include replacing standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, insulating doors and windows and swapping faucets and showerheads with new water-saving models.
• Handy handles: In the course of a day, you grip many objects – from cups and pens, to door knobs and faucet handles. Swapping out door knobs or faucets with knobs for lever-handle models can make these everyday tasks a bit easier – especially for smaller or arthritic hands.
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• Get a grip: For any age, stairs are a falling hazard in homes – whether it’s one step or 20. To increase safety, add hand rails or decorative hand grips in high-traffic doorways where there may be a step, such as the garage or front entry.
• Let there be light: Did you also know that by age 60 the average person requires 15 times more lighting than when they were 10-years-old? Brighten up the home with additional reading lamps in bedrooms and family rooms, under-cabinet task lighting in the kitchen, motion-sensor lights near entrances and nightlights in hallways.
• Safe and secure – Your home is your safe haven … so make sure it is protected. In the bathroom where slick surfaces can be falling hazards, add functional – yet fashionable – grab bars. And, in case of unforeseen falls or other home accidents, home security systems can give you peace of mind to know that fire, medical or emergency-response is available for you and your loved ones at the touch of a button.
• Flat flooring: According to the Home Safety Council, falls are the leading cause (66 percent) of all nonfatal home injuries. To help you – or your loved ones – avoid becoming a statistic, remove throw rugs or ensure that they have a non-slip backing to provide more firm footing.
• Low-maintenance lawns: With busy lifestyles, it’s tough to keep up landscaping. Making a few modifications to the yard can help ease the burden. Replace large grassy areas that require frequent mowing with rock gardens or mulch beds. Additionally, choose drought-resistant perennial plants and shrubs to save time and money on watering – and ensure you don’t have to plant new each spring.
• Be prepared: Are the washer and dryer in the basement? Are the bedroom and bathroom upstairs? Since stairs can be difficult to navigate for children or aging parents, having all the necessities on one floor is ideal. While it may not be in the budget to move everything to the main floor now, gradually start getting ready by wiring a closet or small room for the laundry – or planning to expand a half bath to a full bath.
With a few minor updates, you can breathe easier knowing your home is safer for your loved ones – both young and old.