Sometimes, our love for our senior family members is not enough. We also have to make sure they know that they’re welcome and safe in our home, especially if they are left alone when we go to work. Making our homes very comfortable and easy for them to live in will not only give them a sense of safety, they’ll also have peace of mind knowing that they are valued for us to make these adjustments for them.
Here are the ways to make sure that your home is safe and accessible for older people.
1. Make it accessible
Choose a room for them that’s nearest to the bathroom or the dining room so they could go to any of these places with great ease. If possible, pick a downstairs room to minimize the risk of falling down the stairs. If this is not possible, however, handrails should be installed on both sides of the stairs so they can get a good grip if they’re climbing up or going down.
Make sure also that the pathways leading to all doors are unobstructed. Floors should be decluttered in order to avoid accidents. If possible, change the floor tiles into anti-skid ones or for a quick fix, place rubber or anti-slip mats along the needed pathways.
Finally, replace furniture with protruding legs or, if this is not possible, move them to a place not frequented by house members.
2. Ensure their safety
Aside from anti-skid floors and clear pathways, grab bars must be installed all around the house. This is to further prevent any slips or trips that might still happen despite the protective flooring. They will have something to hold on to if dizzy spells happen or they feel unbalanced.
In addition, furniture with sharp edges should be covered with corner guards to prevent the elderly or any member of the family from scrapes and cuts. Shelves also must be placed below their height so they will not have a hard time placing or reaching for things, and
any high place or cabinet that needs to be reached must be with a step box to lessen their muscle strain. Carpets, rugs and other floor details or decors are also sources of accidents and should be kept away if possible.
3. Minimize their effort
Senior family members should exert less effort as possible when they go about their daily tasks, so make sure your home’s easily navigable. Changing small things around the house such as doorknobs and faucet knobs into levers will truly make a difference because tapping levers is easier for them. Button light switches are also better than the normal light switch.
If senior family members insist on being independent, at least in their own room, it is better if their room and the things inside it are easy to maintain and clean. Furniture and stuff with smooth surfaces are less prone to dust accumulation, while beds must be as close to the door as possible for easier access. Also,
using light but durable furniture is also a big help. Things that can be used or operated with just one hand minimize risk of having muscle strains or pains.
4. Make sure they’re comfortable
Help them be more comfortable in their own home by having a well-lit home. For them to walk around the house comfortably, pathways and rooms should always be illuminated to guide their movement.
Appliances should also be easy to reach and use. The TV, for instance, should be adjusted to a comfortable height to minimize neck stretches and pains.
In addition, check if the cushions and mattresses are appropriate for senior family members’ backs. Alternatively you can have these cushions adjusted.
The amount of space for them to move around should also be taken into consideration. Having a large space may not be a good idea, unless they are in a wheelchair, in which case, the space should be enough to accommodate both the wheelchair and the caregiver.
Giving senior family members independence boosts their self-esteem. That is why we need to make sure that they can move around the house safely without us having to assist them all the time.
Aside from being well-lit, the house must also be well-ventilated. An airy home does not feel stuffy and suffocating, and even minimizes the risk of them catching viral or bacterial infection. Also, during the summer, make sure that electric fans, air-conditioners, and coolers can easily be reached by them.
Having two- or even three-way light switches is better so they can turn the switches on or off after moving from one place to another. Phone lines are better if they are installed in all the areas of the house. You can easily reach them anytime and vice versa in case of emergencies. Knowing that you’re just a phone call away can relieve them of stress and anxiety.
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