Home Safety for Seniors When it Matters Most
If you’re like most seniors, you likely want to stay at home after you retire. But, there are hidden dangers lurking in plain sight, and you may not have considered how your house can affect your ability to stay safe down the road. Even when you are in good health, a few simple modifications can reduce the chances of accidents and injuries and improve your quality of life. Making these changes now will give you a better chance of aging place.
Adjustments for aging
As you get older, your body naturally undergoes changes that can make even familiar surroundings feel like a foreign land. One place this is glaringly evident is the stairs. Eye diseases, cataracts, glaucoma, and other vision problems common among older people make it easy to misjudge height and distance. When this happens, you may take a step expecting solid ground only to find open air. This can result in broken bones and a bruised body. If your home has stairs, make a point to move your primary living and sleeping areas to the lowest level of your home to reduce the number of trips you make up and down each day. Increased lighting and visual markers on the stair treads can also help.
The bathroom is another area that tends to trigger slips and falls, as slick surfaces make the bathroom a dangerous place. Preemptive planning can help you negate many of the issues that could cause a serious injury. Refinishing your bathtub to include a non-slip surface or adding safety bars to help you in and out are just a few examples. Angie’s List also recommends adding a zero-entry shower, which is one that will allow you to bathe even if you are in a wheelchair or cannot step over a bathtub wall.
After the bathroom and stairs, the kitchen poses the next greatest risk. If you have mobility issues, lowered countertops and more accessible storage can help you avoid reaching over your head or out of your comfort zone. This is another area where added lighting can increase safety and livability, especially if your eyes aren’t quite what they used to be.
Lifestyle changes matter
Having the ability to stay at home may require more than a simple remodel. You can also make lifestyle changes to improve your environment. One of the most important, which also happens to be the easiest, is to clear out clutter. Throw rugs, unnecessary furniture, and excess personal belongings can all get in the way. By removing unneeded accessories, you will have less to clean and fewer obstacles in your way as you navigate from room to room.
As you get older, your daily routine should also include exercise, and nutrition must be a priority. Both of these actions work together to keep your body strong and your mind alert. Philips Lifeline further asserts that low-impact aerobic activities can even help prevent joint injuries. When you exercise, you also give your body the oxygen it needs to heal minor injuries like bumps and bruises. Similarly, eating foods that are high in calcium – sardines, kale, yogurt, etc. – can slow bone loss, meaning you will be less prone to fractures.
Your home safety checklist won’t be complete until you have evaluated your entire property, including the bedroom and yard. If you find that you are overwhelmed with this new responsibility, your adult children and grandchildren may be able to help. Ask them to come for a visit and simply spend the day with you. They can make notes of places where you appear to have trouble and together you can come up with an aging-in-place plan that will put you all at ease.
Author – Lydia Chan