In this column each month, I talk about matters of housing and how we can live fuller, longer and more productive lives in our own homes. One of the things that saddens me is that we have a tendency to view our elderly as a liability rather than an asset when they reach the point where it is difficult for them to care for themselves. What a shame! At the point in their lives when the rest of us can gain so much from their collective wisdom, they are encouraged to move into communities that are in large measure isolated from the rest of us. In order to remain in their homes as long as possible, seniors need to be safe and secure in their homes. Safety and security are of the highest importance for the peace of mind and reassurance of the senior as well as their families and caregivers. The following five areas are very important in assuring that you have a safe and secure home:
Entryway It is important to have a safe and secure entry into the home. Ideally it should be a zero step entry. This can be accomplished by use of a ramp or grading. The entry should be well lighted, preferably with motion sensor controls. The door should be at least 36” wide and have a covered 5’ by 5’ open area in front of the door with an open area along the wall next to the opening side of the door of 18”-24”. The handle should be a lever style lock, and a monitor can be installed to alert caregivers and provide security.
Bathroom The bathroom is the room in the house that can be the greatest challenge for a person with limited mobility. I covered some of the problems and solutions with bathrooms in last month’s column and I’d be happy to send you a reprint if you missed it. It is also important to have a way to call for help if you need it, especially if you live alone. This can be accomplished by having a phone in each bathroom or with various types of monitors.
Kitchen The kitchen is another room that can be a hazard. Some areas to look at are non slip flooring, easily accessible controls on appliances, varied counter heights, appliances raised up from floor level for easier access, and adequate lighting. There are products available which will turn off a range or oven automatically if there are memory or dementia concerns.
Fall Prevention The fear of falling and injuries from falling keeps many seniors from staying in their homes. It is important to inspect the entire home and identify and repair any potential hazards that might cause a fall. The floor should be nonslip with no loose rugs or other obstructions that might present a tripping hazard. Furniture and fixtures should be arranged in such a way to provide unobstructed access throughout the house. Finally, grab bars and railings should be provided as needed throughout the house.
Communication It is vitally important that seniors, especially those living alone, can reach help at all times and also that they can easily stay in touch with their loved ones. Many technologies now exist and are being developed daily to help seniors stay connected with their families and caregivers, as well as with their service providers.
Solid Rock Enterprises, Inc. provides a Home Safety Inspection that can identify these and other hazards in your home and provide solutions. For more information log on to our website at www.solidrockenterprises.com, call 540-384-2064, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at:
Solid Rock Enterprises, Inc.
428 West Riverside Drive
Salem, VA 24153
Solid Rock has written many articles for Housing Matters, including subject matter for Retirement, Enjoying the Outdoors and Aging In Place. Please visit our Housing Matters Index of articles here.