Are you or a loved one approaching the age where it is becoming time to consider the safety in your home? This article will give you a very thorough list of home improvement and remodeling ideas that will help ensure the safety of seniors, whether it be you or a loved one.
Did you know that the elderly population is expected to double in the next 25 years? It will leave a lot of homes unsuited for its inhabitants since the construction of your average home simply won’t be accommodating to those people starting to have mobility problems.
Since a lot of seniors wish to live at home, it also becomes a question about what is responsible to do. Should your loved ones really be allowed to stay in their home? In fact, one in four people who is older than 65 will experience a fall, per year, and a lot of deaths happen because of falls. They’re in fact the leading cause for injuries and deaths among elderly people. To make your loved one a little less susceptible to falling, keep reading this article.
Home Safety Tips for Seniors
With the amount of old people living in their homes increasing, it is an important issue to address. As someone who cares for your aging loved ones, you should familiarize yourself with the areas of the house that pose the greatest dangers. By making changes, there are a lot of these falls that can be prevented.
There are principles that apply no matter where in the house you’re talking about, and these are the ones I’m talking about. A lot of them are very general tips, and while they may not require remodeling, they’re still important to keep in mind for the safety of your loved ones.
- Stairs are where a lot of accidents happen, and if they are currently using slippery material, it is important that you either switch it out or get it treated so it won’t be hazardous any more.
- Besides making the stairs non-slippery, you should ensure that there is not just good lighting but that the switches are easily accessible no matter which direction you approach the stairs by.
- Hand rails may become weaker over time, and you should have them checked out to make sure it’s not the case currently, which includes both the inside and the outside.
- If the stairs are no longer possible to use, get a lift installed in the home.
- Spills make surfaces more slippery, and they should be removed promptly when discovered.
- Some wax will make surfaces extremely slippery, and it is important this type is not used on the floor.
- If your home still has telephone cords, these must be removed from areas you will be walking in a lot, if possible. If not, they should be secured to the ground so they do not become a tripping hazard.
- Rugs can make surfaces more slippery depending on what they’re lying on top of. If that’s the case, it’s better to simply remove them.
- If your loved one uses a walking aid, it should be set correctly so it best supports their walking.
- Smoking should be discouraged when an elderly person is by themselves, since it will significantly increase the risk of fires.
- Smoke detectors need to be checked according to the recommendations on the package to ensure they’re always working.
- A medical alert or buddy system will be advantageous in case something goes wrong.
Seniors Safety Products
There are various different products that can be used to help ensure the safety of seniors in their homes. They do a range of different things from making sure that the right medication is taken at the right time to preventing falls and notifying the caregiver if someone is wandering off. With these devices, the elderly will get some of their freedom back as they’ll be able to do things without constant monitoring, and many of these devices are used both in assisted environments as well as for seniors living by themselves.
The PocketFinder is a device that will let you know where your loved ones are. It’s not only good for elderly, but it can also be used for kids or dogs, if either have a tendency to try and run away. If someone wanders out the area they’re supposed to be in, the device can notify the caregiver, who will then be able to find him.
Scalding is a serious concern, not just with elderly but with babies and kids too. There are significant amounts of hot taper water injuries each year, some of them may lead to hospitalization and a few of them result in death. It’s therefore recommended that you turn down the temperature on the boiler or water heater as to avoid this. You can also get anti-scalding attachments that go on sinks and showerheads which will stop the water from flowing if it reaches a certain temperature.
For those starting to have trouble getting up, you can install security poles that go from ceiling to the floor, which a senior can grab for assistance in standing up. It’s easy to install and can be moved from room to room according to where you think it’s the most needed. It fits in any room you’d like and will make life a lot easier for someone having trouble standing up.
Pill dispensers are crucial in any home to make sure the right medication is taken at the right time. There are many different types with varying price points also. These dispensers will not just be great at making sure your loved one takes the pills at the right time, it will also mean that they are saving time on dosing it correctly since it will be done once, and then won’t need to be done again for a while, especially if you get a dispenser that can hold up to 28 doses of pills, which is the case for the MD2 Plus. Although it is not the cheapest product on the market, if you are willing to spend the money, it does provide a lot of convenience relative to the cheaper options. There are also a lot of cool products being developed that will take things to a whole new level, like the Hero pill dispenser.
When we age, facing difficulties with sleeping is not uncommon. These are caused by biological changes in our bodies, but to counteract it and track the sleep, Fitbit has created the Charge HR, which is not just for seniors but everyone alike. However, as sleeping difficulties become more common later on, it’s a great addition to an older person’s home.
It will give you a lot of information on your sleep, your heart rate throughout the day and general well-being, and we at Contractor Quotes would be surprised if they do not keep adding more and more features to what it is able to do. It connects with fitness apps and ca give you information on the amount of movement you do and help seniors get in their exercise to avoid early physical deterioration.
To allow elderly people to keep being able to communicate with the world, it is important that they have a phone that they feel comfortable using. One of these is the Jitterbug. It comes both as a smartphone and a flip phone but both are very intuitive to use. If your loved one refuses to use one of the other devices, at least the Jitterbug is easy to use and has a long battery life, which is important if something happens.
Safety Bed Rails for Seniors
Photo credit: Amazon
You probably didn’t know that 25% of falls in heath care settings are a consequence of falls from beds. Well, besides making it practically impossible to fall out of the bed, it also helps in assisting a person in sitting up if you get bedrails installed. It adds an additional thing to grab onto, and can be a major help for anyone with mobility challenges, or simply someone who is afraid of falling out of bed.
They’re not all made equal, so you should be looking out for several things when you choose the right ones. top5reviews has reviewed the ones they think are the best.
It is obviously important that they’re easy to use, or they serve no function at all. They should increase maneuverability and not limit it. Preferably, you should find ones that can fold down, so that you won’t need to go around them when you’re trying to enter the bed.
They need to be very stable and have the ability to support all the weight of a person. When you buy the product, it will usually say how many pounds it can withstand.
If all you need help with is to get in and out of bed, a bed cane will be what you should get. Otherwise, you should get ones that cover the full length of the bed.
Safety Step Stool for Seniors
Step stools serve a very important purpose for elderly people in their homes, but they’re not all made equal. Certain things will simply become harder, which includes climbing into a tall bed, or when you are trying to reach things high up, which include kitchen cabinets, or other high up places. There are tools that can help you reach these things, and one of them is a step stool.
When choosing the right one, make sure that it can accommodate the weight of the person that will be using it and that it is a good option for the location it is intended for. If it needs to be stored away, then make sure that it would fit in the intended space.
Check out the comparisons between your different options right here.
You should also be thinking about what the purpose of this step stool is and how tall it needs to be.
These are some of the options you can choose between:
- Bath Step Stool with Handle by Vive
- AdjustaStep DoubleSafe Deluxe Step Stool
- Kikkerland Rhino
- Cosco® 2-Step All Steel Step Stool
- Cosco Folding Wood Step Stool
Home Safety Checklist for Seniors
Using a checklist to make sure that the house has all the necessary features needed, helps provide a safe environment for elderly people.
The home that your loved one lives in should also undergo due maintenance, and that means someone should come out 4 times per year, or whenever there is other reason to to make sure that these things are all under control. If for example a severe storm has swept through the state, it’s important to make sure it didn’t leave any leaks in the roof, which could cause water damage.
Make sure to check the house to ensure that your loved one does not become part of these statistics.
- Have an exterminator check for pests, including termites and others.
- The HVAC unit should be inspected to ensure it can provide adequate cooling and heating.
- Are all areas well-lit?
- Is trash being picked up conveniently, and is someone making sure it is being taken out the day before pickup?
- Make sure area rugs aren’t placed on slippery surfaces.
- Electrical cords should be safely secured to walls to avoid trip hazards.
- Make it easy to see both the first and last step on the stairs.
- Fire extinguishers are readily available, and appropriate fire safety measures are in place.
- Needed furniture repairs get done, so they do not become unsafe to use.
- Hallways and doorways need to be cleaned, de-cluttered and cleared so nothing gets in the way when walking.
- Handrails are in good condition, and available in the necessary locations.
- Materials that could pose any sort of hazard are stored safely. Here’s a list of things to look out for.
- Floors, no matter what material, do not become slippery, even when wet. If not, consider applying a non-skid coating.
- All the electrical installations are in good condition and are safe to use. Although it is best to get done by an electrician, here’s a guide you can do for visual inspection.
- The water does not become scalding even if turned up as high as possible.
- Smoke detectors are working properly and installed according to the specifications of the manufacturer.
- Clutter and debris is removed in a timely fashion and does not represent a fall hazard.
- Space heater are working properly.
- The condition of the stairs has been checked.
- All doors should be easy and safe to get in and out of. It should be easy to lock the door from the inside too.
- Mail, newspapers and more should be easy to retrieve.
- Good outdoor lighting where walking occurs.
- Safety railing are present, in good condition and high enough.
- Access to wheelchair ramps in the needed areas of the house, and ensuring that they’re in a good condition too.
- Scheduled snow and ice removal during the colder months.
- Stairs are safe.
Safety Treadmill For Seniors
Everyone benefits from being physically active, and not just younger people. There are a lot of exercises that elderly people can do to ensure they keep their strength for longer, and one of them is using a treadmill. There are a lot of good programs to check out. Getting a good treadmill for seniors is an easy way to stay active longer, while still being gentle on muscles and joints.
The CDC, or Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has recommended that elders should get at least 75 minutes of aerobic activity or about 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic exercise such as walking on a treadmill. Using the treadmill is no doubt one of the best ways to fulfill such requirement since it is a functional activity that’s gentle on the joints and muscles.
There are many articles on the benefits of adopting an exercises regimen and making it part of your daily routine. While a treadmill is a good option, there are other programs too that don’t involve one.
If you have been to a professional gym, you know how the treadmills there are often extra wide. If you get the PROGEAR HCXL 4000, you’l get the feeling with that too, since it’s 20 inches wide. It is also very quiet relative to its competitors due to the way it was built, and has long handles that makes it easier for someone to use them if something goes wrong. It has also been tested up to 400 lbs.
The Exerpeutic TF1000 is similarly 20 inches wide, comes with a good warranty, has received 100s of positive reviews on Amazon and the speed can be increased in very small increments to ensure no sudden and drastic changes.
The Weslo Cadence G 5.9 comes at a lower price point, has a lower weight capacity of 275 lbs but provides different workout programs. It also features nice cushioning to walk on.
Safety Hand Rails For Seniors
Installing handrails is an important thing that will play a huge role in the life of the senior, as well as securing those that are already there. The handrails will help the senior who is raising one leg to get somewhere, and there are different places where they should be installed. There are more places than the ones we mention below where you might consider having them installed, but those are the most notable ones for you to think about.
The bathtub, bed, next to the couch, in the shower, near seating in the kitchen, and other places someone might want to sit. Remember that some of those areas are prone to getting slippery when they’re wet, and a handrail or safety bar will make it a much more safe situation for the person, once they need to either get up from a seated position, or move over objects, or sit down
You should also get handrails that do not have users saying that they break in their online reviews, and going for either metal or wood are common, durable choices. They might then be covered on the outside with rubber or plastic, but the main supporting material is still wood or metal, and the exteriors is simply to provide a more comfortable grip for those using it.
Things to Focus on When Remodeling for the Elderly
When you’re doing home improvement or remodeling at a home where seniors live, there are different things that you need to focus on. We will talk about those basic concepts in this part of the article.
First off, a lot of the things you will be doing will be focusing on increasing mobility one way or another. It’s not just inside the house, it’s also outside. If you or a loved one is using a wheelchair, you know the importance of getting a ramp built. Even steps that are relatively low could become a nuisance as people age.
When you think about mobility in the home, it all comes down to eliminating uneven surfaces and making sure there’s a solution for those annoying steps, and creating enough space to conveniently moving around. A wheelchair will need quite a bit of space for turning.
Secondly, as we’ve already talked about, the thing you need to be sure to include is enough support for grabbing on, which can help when you’re moving around. Slippery surfaces will especially need a lot of bars to hold on to, to avoid the dangerous falls.
When you’re remodeling, it’s good to ask your contractor for advice too, and the changes to make your home more senior-friendly do not even need to be expensive.
Door knobs and handles should be made senior-friendly. Those door knobs will become more and more difficult to handle the older a person gets, and it’s important that you do something about it so that the person needing to use the door knobs won’t continuously be annoyed by them.
Our ability to see also gets worse as we age, and it is therefore crucial that enough lights are installed so the house is well-lit. It can even be a good idea to add automatic lights that you won’t need to go to the switch to turn on, or you can install remote light switches, which gives the person the ability to turn on the lights from a remote rather than going to each switch and using it. You can also install an Amazon Echo or Alexa so the lights can be turned on using nothing but the sound of your voice. Stairs and other places where people are more prone to falling are especially areas of interest where more light might need to be added, and you can install an intercom to communicate throughout the house.
Bedroom Remodeling for Seniors
The bedroom is where we all spend a lot of time, but it is also an area that has certain challenges as people age. It’s the place you go to take a nap, or a good night’s sleep after a long day. It is also one of the places that you need to make sure is safe for elderly people
You can do a lot of different things to make it a safer place, and some of them are pretty simple including making it easier to turn lights on and off with a touch activated lamp that can easily be accessed.
You should also place a good chair for sitting. Rather than trying to stand up and put their clothes on, a lot of people with less balance will prefer to sit while they get dressed.
Things that are kept in the closet should be kept at a convenient height that ensured the senior does not need to bend down or stretch to reach it. If there are currently things in that space that is easy to access that is never used, while other things that are commonly used but are now stored in a hard-to-reach place, change it up so that everything that is often used is easy to get to.
Since it is harder for older people to bend over and reach things, you also need to make sure that getting in and out of bed is as easy as it can get, which involves making sure it’s the right height. If the bed is currently very low, consider getting one that takes less energy to stand out of.
When it comes to the actual location of the bedroom, it might previously have been on the first floor, but now since the seniors are having difficulties in getting to the first floor, it’s a lot better if you’re able to move it to the ground floor instead. It takes away the additional need to move up and down stairs, and if you can, it’s just worth considering it. To get more tips, read this article.
Safety handles are not just important in the bathroom but also in the bedroom where seniors need to get up and move around.
To make it easier for the senior, get a phone installed next to the bed, so they don’t need to make it all the way to the living room when someone is calling, which they might not be able to in time.
Again, make sure there is adequate lighting in there and especially in the closet, so it’s easier to find things.
Kitchen Remodeling Ideas for Seniors’ Safety
The kitchen is where the magic happens. I bet there’s no one who can cook like your mom or your grandmother, but it is also the place where a lot of accidents happen. Don’t let the place where you create art become the place where someone gets hurt. Using the kitchen will inevitably get harder the older you or your loved one gets, but there are still things you can do. Remodeling your kitchen is also a great way to have some of those features added that are long overdue, which includes a lot of safety measures.
The dishwasher will often cause issues for an elderly person if it is placed very close to the ground, and this is therefore a great opportunity to raise it up higher, so that it becomes easier to empty.
In order to avoid having to use the step stool too frequently, you will want to place the cabinets at a convenient height, which minimizes the need for bending over. It can also be the time for upgrading your selection of cabinets and getting ones that pull out. These will be easier to maneuver than simple ones where you need to dig in behind everything in order to get what it is that you want. Their sophistication will obviously be reflected in the price, and the more advanced ones are therefore a lot more expensive too. If you’re handy, you can get ones installed pretty cheaply which will do the job.
Here’s an example of it.
If your loved one is in a wheelchair, it is important that the modification of the sink includes that the new sink becomes wheelchair-friendly. What that basically means is that it’s not very deep, and that it’s a roll-under sink, where the user will be able to go all the way to the sink and not be hindered by its design.
Your upper cabinets can have pull down shelves installed in them which means you won’t need the step stool to get to the things, and this home improvement initiative therefore means your effective cabinet space becomes a lot bigger.
When you choose the appliances for someone who is a little bit older, it is often times a good idea that they’re easy to use. While a microwave may now also have a lot of different bells and whistles and have the option to tie in with your smartphone, chances are an elderly person won’t be using this option. More specifically, here’s an article on senior-friendly appliances for the kitchen.
Make sure that the way you design the layout of the kitchen, that it’s not cluttered, and getting back and forth is easy to do.
For safety, it can also be a good idea to mark appliance buttons, since most of them in fact don’t say off or on, and clearer indications may simply make it more likely that they’re actually turned off.
The kettle that you choose to get should be one that turns off automatically. Some of them, while they may turn off automatically, if you take the water off before they do and you put it back, they will simply keep going, which could end up in a bad situation.
Generally, you will want to make sure that the heavier object that are needed are the most accessible ones so that you don’t force the senior to either bend or stretch as well as carry something heavy.
Bathroom Remodeling for the Elderly
The same way as the rest of the house, it’s important that the bathroom is safe to use, and a bathroom remodeling should focus on those aspects that bring that feature for the seniors using it.
If the bathroom has both a tub and a shower, make sure that it is easy to get from one to the other. The bathroom is another place where you will want to install a roll-under sink if your loved one is in a wheel chair. It’s also convenient if the shower has a handheld showerhead, if you choose to put a chair in there.
Consider installing a walk in bathtub, since it is easier to get into than a normal bathtub is. It can conveniently open in the side, rather than having the senior need to step over the side to enter.
If you are unable to make sure that surfaces become less slippery, put out bath mats that will make the surface less slippery.
Ensure that the temperature of the water has been turned down to ensure no scalding happens.
The locks should be able to be opened from both sides to ensure no one gets locked inside.
It can also be convenient to place somewhere to lean against when a person is brushing their teeth to keep them from having to stand up for the entire time.
What To Look For In Safety Tubs For Seniors
As we already mentioned, a walk-in tub tub can be highly beneficial for seniors, but you should know what to look for to make sure you make the right purchase, since it’s a significant one.
Start off by choosing the type you’re looking for, which includes the different functionalities. You can either get the simplest one, which simply allows soaking, but you can also get ones that do water jet streams or bubbles. The more advanced the option you’re going for, the more it will end up costing.
Depending on whether or not the user has a wheelchair will change which way the door will usually be opening. You can either get doors that open outward or inward. A door that swings outward will obviously need a bigger bathroom to do so comfortably.
The tubs also differ in size, and it can be convenient to go and try to sit in one to get a feel for how big it is, and whether it is big enough for your needs, and if you find it easy to get in and out of.
Finally, you need to make sure that the quality of the tub is high. You can go online and look at what other people have said about the tub too, and look at the warranty that they provide for the tub, so you’re not suddenly at home with a tub that is leaking water all over the house.
Home Safety Assessment For Seniors
Remodeling the home of a senior can make them able to live there for a longer time, and make the place safer too. There are many different things to keep in mind and each home will have its individual challenges. While this article has covered the basic ideas, different houses should all be inspected to make sure nothing has been missed. Work with the senior to find out which rooms they still feel need to be altered to better suit their needs. The sooner you start preparing your home, the sooner the senior living there will significantly lower their risk of enduring bad accidents.
While it’s impossible to fully protect a space against falls or other accidents, these things will make a lot of change.