Here’s a list to get you thinking about home modifications that can help your loved one stay safe at home longer and age in place.
- Install grab bars or safety rails for support when getting in/out of tub/shower – never use towel racks or shower curtain rods instead of grab bars.
- Apply non-slip strips on bathtub and shower floors.
- Use bathmats and rugs with non-skid backings.
- Use an adjustable-height shower seat rather than standing, if necessary.
- Install an adjustable height or handheld showerhead.
- Turn down the water temperature on the hot water heater to 120 degrees to prevent scalding.
- Consider a raised toilet seat or grab bar to make getting up and down easier; make sure toilet paper is in easy reach.
- Avoid locking the bathroom door when bathing to allow quicker access to you in case of a fall.
- Widen or clear pathways through the bedroom – arrange furniture to create open space.
- Make sure all electrical cords have been cleared from paths.
- Place smoke detectors outside of bedrooms on each level of the home.
- Keep a phone with a cord within easy reach of the bed cordless phones aren’t useable when the electricity goes out.
- Post a list of emergency numbers near the phone; include current medications, dates prescribed and the pharmacy phone number.
- Secure rug edges with double-sided tape or get rid of scatter rugs.
- Make sure you can switch on a lamp before leaving bed to illuminate the path to the bathroom.
- If you feel unstable at night or fear falling, carry a cordless phone with you as you move about.
- If a low bed makes it difficult to get up, consider using risers to elevate the bed.
- Don’t wear loose sleeves when cooking.
- Use a timer when cooking or baking so you don’t forget that something is cooking.
- Consider a long handled dustpan/broom combination to reduce bending.
- If you use a rug on the floor in front of the sink, use a rubber-backed mat.
- If you have difficulty reading stove and oven knobs, investigate large-sized controls through vision support organizations.
- Install cupboard door handles that are easy to grasp, such as D-type handles.
- Store frequently used items in easy-to-reach cabinets and on countertops.
- Increase kitchen lighting over task areas such as countertops, stove and sink.
- Have a seated workspace available.
- Create a safe place to rest hot food immediately as you remove it from the microwave.
- Living Room and Throughout the Home
Increase lighting at entryways
- Leave lights on in rooms or hallways that you walk through after dark. (High efficiency bulbs and motion sensors at doorways are economical lighting solutions.)
- Change to lever-type door handles if knobs are difficult to grasp or manipulate.
- Install no step, no trip thresholds at doorways.
- Install peepholes on exterior doors that are the right height for the homeowner.
- Install handles and locks on all windows that are easy to grip at the right height.
- Make sure all railings are sturdy and that handrails are on both sides of all stairs.
- Secure all rug edges with double-sided tape or consider getting rid of scatter rugs.
- If vision problems are a concern, create visual contrast on stair risers with paint or tape.
- Make sure homeowners can see and use climate controls (thermostats, air-conditioning units.)
By: Mary Becker-Omvig, MS, OTR/L