Home is not only a place to live but also where our hearts lie. For many seniors, living well means living comfortably at home. Deteriorating functional capacity of the body is not an uncommon issue when we get older. In order to live comfortably, one solution is to remodel the physical environment to accommodate these challenges, such as putting grab bars in the washroom to prevent falls and using pulled-down cabinets to avoid ladder climbing.
Whether you renovate for yourself or a loved one, remodeling a home to put in age-friendly features is always a smart move. Here are some renovation tips that you may find useful:
1. Fall prevention
Falling can cause severe injuries to seniors. Anti-falling should be a main theme in any renovation for seniors. Apart from replacing flooring with slip-resistant material, it is also important to have enough storage space so that the pathways can be kept clear.
Generally, seniors need two to three times more light than younger people due to ageing. Changing light bulbs is often a risk for seniors. The less one needs to replace bulbs especially those fixed in the ceiling the better. One simple solution is switching to LED bulbs which are more lasting. Lamps with shades are also recommended as they protect the eyes by shielding off the light coming direct from the bulbs.
No matter how healthy an elder appears to be; one simple accident could change his life. It is therefore important to ensure that passageway is barrier-free, such as by widening the corridor or the door frame, or installing ramps. These are all valuable upgrades.
4. Choice of door knobs
Levers are usually easier to grip than round doorknobs, and they don’t require a twisting motion. They are particularly helpful to those suffering from arthritis or other problems which limit hand movement.
A walk-in shower is more desirable than a bath tub for a senior as it does away with the need to step in and out of a tub which may pose a lot of risks to one with wet feet. Providing a seat at the shower corner does help in preventing accidental falls.
6. Toilet seat
Backpain is a common problem among seniors. A toilet at a comfortable height, which is normally higher than a regular toilet, could make the motion from sitting to standing after toileting much easier.
7. Kitchen countertops
The height of countertops should meet individual needs. Seniors who have trouble bending may want to have higher countertops, while those in wheelchairs may need to have cabinets and counters lowered. A tailor-made design will reduce the concern over strain injuries to bones. Besides, seniors may be absent-minded with the handling of stoves resulting in potential fire risks. Induction cooker or stove with prompting devices are highly recommended.
8. Space for caregiver/helper
For those who live on their own, a live-in caregiver may eventually be needed in future. If so, it is a good idea to set aside a designated room or space for the caregiver when designing your new home. The space room could also be used as a temporary stay-over space by your visiting relatives if needed.
Cost could be a concern for some seniors when considering home renovation. Do consult those firms which are specialized in renovating for seniors (e.g. Longevity Design House) for consultation as they may give advice on the assistance available. Reverse mortgage or Building Maintenance Grant Scheme for Elderly Owners could also help to cover the cost. Just remember that personal well-being deserves the highest priority. Providing for yourself a living space which is free from potential hazards would not only allow you to live independently and comfortably but also delay or even obliviate the need for going into a nursing home. In the end, this could be the more economical option.
Aging in place is strongly linked to greater health and happiness for seniors. Let us spend some time today to evaluate whether any modification is needed to make your home more age-friendly.
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