As our loved ones get older, we may be worried that their home is no longer safe for them to stay in. The good news is that with a few simple changes, most homes can be made much safer for elderly members of the family! In-home care is growing in popularity all the time, and most seniors prefer to age in place whenever possible. The B’Zoe Home Caregiving Services team is well-versed in caring for seniors in their own homes, and we’ve seen the common struggles faced by our clients. Here are a few things you can do to make a home more suitable for seniors.
As we age, we tend to get some joint pain or muscle problems that make moving around harder than it was when we were under 65. This limited mobility can make it challenging to navigate a cluttered home, especially in already-tight spaces. Whenever and wherever possible, try to eliminate unnecessary “stuff” from the home. Find new homes for boxes that are often left on the floor, remove a chair or two from the kitchen if they aren’t needed, rearrange the living room to have a wider walking path, etc. You don’t necessarily need to get rid of anything if that’s not okay with your loved one, just relocate it to somewhere that doesn’t pose a tripping hazard. Over the age of 65, falls can be pretty serious. If you can take steps to prevent them now, you won’t have to worry about it later.
Upgrade the Bathroom
This next tip isn’t always the easiest, but it is extremely important. Bathrooms are very dangerous for seniors with slick tile floors, slippery showers, and minimal room to move. If you can, swap out a bathtub for a senior-friendly shower. Curbless entry showers are ideal, but there are several different options that are suitable for aging in place. A shower seat and handrails are also great additions to help your loved one feel secure. In the past, this was a costly and time-consuming process, but with companies like Bath Fitter, it can be completed in as little as one day. You can convert a bathtub into a low entry or curbless shower complete with shelves, railings, and everything else you’re looking for. Opt for high-traction shower floors or pick up a slip-resistant bath mat. You should also have a non-slip mat outside of the shower so that your senior doesn’t slip on the tile floor. Finish off the bathroom with accessible toilets and easy-to-reach storage and your loved one will be in great shape!
Move Commonly-Used Items To Lower Cabinets And Shelves
You can positively impact your senior’s life without any remodeling at all simply by moving things around. If the kitchen cabinets are too tall to reach, move the items they use most often down to a level they can access. You don’t want them on a step ladder while they’re home alone! It’s generally a good idea to keep things in a similar location, just closer to their level. For example, if the Tupperware is too high (or too low), move them up to a drawer or the countertop. You don’t need to move them to a new area of the kitchen, just move them vertically. Keep in mind that bending down may be harder for your loved one, so avoid the temptation to move everything into the ground-level cabinets. If the home doesn’t have enough built-in storage that is accessible, pick up some new shelving units, storage units, or stylish boxes/bins to leave on the counter. You don’t need to move everything, just the items that your loved one uses all the time.
Make Stairs Easier
One of the biggest challenges in creating a multigenerational home is stairs. Stairs can be tiring even for the fittest young adult, so it will absolutely be hard for elderly members of the family. In some cases, the senior relocates to one level of their house, only heading up or downstairs when family or the caregiver is there to assist. If the home has everything necessary on one floor, this is a great option. Otherwise, you’ll want to consider your options. There are several companies offering stair lifts for residential properties. Of course, certain staircases aren’t eligible for them because they curve too sharply or don’t have the proper environment around them. Generally speaking, however, stairlifts are a reasonable option. If you prefer, you can opt to rent a stairlift unit per month. That way, you don’t have to worry about it if your loved one does eventually need to be relocated to a nursing home or assisted living facility. For outdoor stairs or level changes within the house, consider building or installing ramps. Ramps are obviously a necessity for those in wheelchairs, but they are a safer and easier option for everyone! Seniors are far less likely to trip on a ramp than they are on stairs which can put your mind at ease when you aren’t at the house with them. They get to keep their independence and freedom to move around the home and you can rest easy.
Take a Look At The Floor
Lastly, you want to make sure to look at the floors in your senior’s home. As we’ve mentioned, it’s very common for seniors to trip, slip, and fall on surfaces that they never used to. It’s important to take notice of the flooring materials throughout the home and identify any safety risks they pose. Tiles and hardwood are easiest to maneuver for canes and walkers, but they can get slippery under certain conditions. Rugs provide traction but can cause tripping. Luckily, there are many slip-resistant flooring options available these days. You can replace the floor or add some new flooring on top. Many tips you’ll find about flooring relate heavily to the needs of your loved one. Here are a few:
- Try to remove unnecessary carpets when you can, especially if there are walkers or wheelchairs involved.
- If you must keep a rug (to cover slipper tile etc), use low pile rugs that reduce tripping.
- Make sure all rugs are secure and non-slip. You can even get some with plastic angled edges to prevent the corners and sides from tripping seniors if they shuffle their feet.
- Look at the Slip Resistant Value on all new flooring. If the SRV is 36 or higher, your loved one is much less likely to slip!
- Look into getting hardwoods finished with anti-slip products. Many companies offer it.
- Vinyl and cork flooring are some of the safest options and aren’t too expensive.
We hope this article has given you a few ideas about ways to make a home more suitable for your elderly family members to age in place. Keep in mind that each person is different, and that’s a problem for one person may not be an issue for another. Ask for your senior’s input to see what they’re most comfortable with. If you need more tips, don’t hesitate to research online. If you work with home-care experts like B’Zoe, our team can give you advice as well. We’ve been caring for elderly men and women for years with personalized, one-on-one care plans. Our staff will help you make a home appropriate for aging in place so that you don’t need to worry. If you’re ready to work with a caregiving service that will go the extra mile, contact B’Zoe Home Caregiving Services today! Call us at (206) 953-4900 to speak to our team, or visit https://bzoehomecare.com/ to learn more about who we are and what we do.