Home modifications empower seniors by increasing safety and accessibility in the home. This is important for individuals wishing to age in place, as it simplifies life, increases options for independent mobility and improves physical accessibility to the things that are important in day to day life. Home modifications can take various forms, and the price point depends on the scope of the job and the needs of the individual. All modifications, from the smallest to the largest, are beneficial, as they assist in overcoming many of the obstacles that would otherwise prevent seniors from living independently.
Among some of the least expensive home modifications are those that allow for safe, independent bathing and toileting. Grab bars installed in any bathroom can make sitting on the toilet or stepping into the shower safer and easier tasks to accomplish. Non-slip floor strips make it easier to maneuver on wet or slippery floors. Seats added to walk in showers give seniors a place to rest when standing for an extended period of time is uncomfortable or unsafe, and a movable shower head makes it easier to wash in a seated position when necessary. The supplies for these modifications are available at home improvement stores and through durable medical supply companies, and they typically take less than an hour to install with a few screws and minimal need for tools.
Replacing traditional doorknobs with levered handles is another way to make a home more accessible to a disabled senior. Arthritis, nerve damage or weakened muscle strength can make it difficult to turn a traditional door handle. With a levered handle, a senior does not have to maintain the same grip in order to open a door, as the lever simply needs to be pushed down in order for the door to open. Couple levered handles with well oiled locking mechanisms, and opening doors becomes simpler, safer and faster for any senior.
Wheelchair & Assistive Device Accessibility
For individuals who are unable to maneuver without wheelchairs or other assistive devices, adding ramps, widening doorways and installing a chair lift (if the home has two or more stories) are important modifications to consider. While these modifications almost always require a greater financial investment, they allow seniors to reach all areas of the home with little or no assistance. In addition, they make entering and leaving the home easier and faster, which is especially important in the event of a fire or other emergency. Adding ramps and widening doorways typically requires assistance from a professional contractor, and adding a chair lift involves contacting a durable medical supply company or other specialty provider.
Home modifications, especially when coupled with quality in home care services, make it easier for seniors to age in place. By making just a few adjustments to any home, a senior can continue to enjoy a comfortable level of independence with safety in mind. Remember, the key to preventing accidents is to address them before they happen, making it even more important to consider home modifications before they are truly deemed necessary.