Aging in place and the importance of creating a senior friendly home

Overland Park, Kansas – Since many seniors prefer to age in place,making a home senior-friendly is extremely important. A home that may be convenient for people around the ages of 50 to 60 can actually be very different once they reach the age of 70 to 80. Eliminating clutter in homes is one of the first steps in making your home senior-friendly,since this simple task can prevent accidents from happening. Adding lighting is another step since seniors may need twice as much light to see clearly than before. Other things to consider for an aging in place home include:

Recreating your Bathroom

Increasing safety and accessibility in your bathroom is highly important, since it is used countless times everyday. Most accidents may occur in the bathroom than in any other part of the home.

Install roll-in showers with multiple shower heads which are fixed, height adjustable and hand held. Make sure that the curtain is not held up by a tension rod, since grabbing it for support may result in a fall and install grab bars. Also, place rubber mats inside and outside the shower to avoid slipping and falling.

Lower the bathroom sink and make sure there is proper knee clearance. Faucets should also be properly labeled hot and cold, or color code them with red for hot and blue for cold. Make sure that water temperature is set on a setting of 120 degrees or lower since most seniors lose their sensitivity to temperature and may scald themselves.

Install an elevated toilet and add handrails on both sides of the toilet for additional safety and comfort.

Light Settings

Older people need more light, they also need light to be evenly distributed since it takes more time for the seniors’ eyes to readjust in the changing light. The lighting should be indirect, aiming it at the ceiling or the walls to prevent glaring.

Installing proper lighting at home can reduce accidents. The outdoor areas, stairs, kitchen and the living room areas are some places where the use of proper lightning is needed. Remodel dark hallways, especially if they lead to the stairs or to brightly lit rooms.

Place flashlights which can be easily reached when needed, and check on the batteries every few months. Emergency lights should come on automatically in case of power outage.  Also, use rocker type switches for your lighting so you can turn them on or off easily.

Kitchen Needs

The kitchen is another room which can cause physical stress for seniors. Cabinets and drawer handles should be replaced with D-shaped handles that are more comfortable to grasp, especially to people suffering from arthritis. Cabinet shelves should also be sliding or pull out in order to gain access to items efficiently.

Choose refrigerators or freezers with side by side doors so that everything that is needed can be easily placed on the mid shelf. On the other hand, it is also recommended to use drawer type dishwashers installed in platforms to prevent seniors from bending over.

Adjust the heights of counter tops to reduce the amount of bending and increase the amount of support. This one adjustment can make kitchen tasks much easier and less stressful to perform.

For more information, The National Private Duty Association (NPDA) is presenting a Free Family Caregiver Web Conference “Creating a Senior Friendly Home to Help Parents Age in Place” on June 16, 2011, at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT) (8:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. CT, 6:00 p.m. MT, 5:00 p.m. PT).  The 45-minute web conference topics include: • designing a home for senior safety and comfort • addressing changing health needs • appropriate furnishings and • ambient technology. Free of charge to participants but pre-registration for the event is required. To register and for more information on the NP DA visit www.privatedutyhomecare.org.