Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home Modifications For Future Needs

Home modifications is a fairly new concept that has come along with the incarnation of seniors choosing to stay living in their homes in place of moving to assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Due to limitations that naturally occur as we age changes need to be made in order for needs to be met and safety kept at a premium.  Home modifications can range from replacing the knobs on cabinets to bathroom remodels that include barrier free entry tubs. 
Seniors need home modifications in order to age in place.  They promote keeping independence in senior citizens life while keeping them safe. It is important to recognize that eighty-five percent of elderly people wish to stay in their homes and are doing so.  Out of those eighty-five percent only a small percentage are equipped with accommodations that will allow them maximum safety. 
Homes without age in place modifications become harder to maintain and live in for seniors.  It is proven that a home that is perfectly safe and allows for independent living at sixty-five does not necessarily accommodate the needs of a seventy year old.  It has been proven that simple modifications done to the home can eliminate up to fifty percent of the accidents that occur to seniors aging in place.
The most common accident to occur within the home to seniors is a fall.  There are many home modifications that can be done to prevent accidental falls.  Many age in place specialists will come into the home and do a free home analysis of problem areas.  With this information homeowners can budget to make arrangements to accommodate their needs as they begin the aging process.  If their goal is to age in their homes and wish to live as independently as possible starting out early in making simple changes will ease both the financial and emotional burdens that can occur.
Below is an example of an inspection of the kitchen and bathroom space within a home.  With this general look it is easy to see how home modifications are necessary to safely age in place.
·         It is important to make cabinet knobs easy to pull open.  As people age they often begin to lose the strength and ability to work door knobs that have to be turned or that are hard to pull open.
·         Stove controls must all be marked with bold lettering and easy to use.  It is important that there are lights that are on the stove that signal when it is on and the stove top is hot.  This is important to prevent the stove from being left on or a hand placed on the stove while it is still on.
·         Faucets should be levered instead of turn knobs. This will ease turning them on and off.
·         Grab bars should be put in place in spaces such as tub and toilet areas.  It is also important to evaluate the area around the toilet and the toilet itself.  Seniors begin to have a harder time lowering and raising themselves. This issue can be resolved with grab bars and high rise toilet aides.
·         Ovens are also another area of concern.  They are often heavy and hard to open.  This is something to look into.  A convection oven can be purchased to help with this issue. 
·         A place to sit while working in the kitchen becomes necessary.  The aging process has a strange effect on joints and the ability to stand for long periods of time.  Cutting celery and dicing carrots is made simpler with a seated work area.  The risk of falling or slipping while using a knife decreases significantly.
·         The tub and shower is a large area of concern.  A barrier free shower entrance is an incredibly nice feature to have installed.  Bathroom remodels are a common renovation for homeowners.  A bit of forwarding thinking can save a lot of money later on.
·         Water temperatures should be regulated to prevent burning.  This is something that is simple and does not require any renovations.
·         Items that are used on a regular basis such as shampoo and dish soap should be within reaching distance.  Over reaching can lead to falls.  It is important that everyday use items are well within reach. 
Home modifications can improve the lives of those aging in place.  Safety is of course the main concern however a skilled age in place contractor can blend safety and aesthetics while putting in place home modifications.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stability And Mobility Through Age In Place Renovations

As loved ones age caregivers need to start putting in place a plan against home accidents.  Aging inplace is becoming more common as loved ones are living longer and are more independent than in past decades. Assisted living a popular option also however many senior prefer to maintain their quality of life and independent living for as long as possible.  This leads to aging in place safety procedures being instituted in homes.
One issue that often arises as loved ones ages is the loss of balance and stability.  This often leads to falls that then grow into large issues such as broken hips or fractures.  The best thing we can do as caregivers is to eliminate the possibilities that make our senior higher risk.  It is impossible to offer them more balance on their own so establishing the aid around the house to offer this while removing obstacles is the key element in keeping seniors safe while aging in place.
The main area to begin with is the floors.  This is obvious as it is where mobility happens.  Observe the room.  Look for obstacle as you walk through, in and around the room.  Is there furniture everywhere?  Is it too tight to maneuver with the use of a cane or walker?  Are there rugs scattered about or loose carpets?  How about magazines, papers, dog beds and extra debris that is not necessary cluttering the floor area?  Also examine any cords for lamps, phones and other miscellaneous items often around the home stored on the floor.  Even fan and humidifier cords are hazards in moving about one’s home in a safe manner. 
Now that you have narrowed down what needs to be taken care of it is imperative to proceed with a plan that with alleviate the issues permanently.  Picking up newspapers and magazines is terrific however in itself inefficient.  A place to store future items safely is also needed.  Furniture that is over abundant should be scaled down to make room to maneuver safely about.  Throw rugs should not be placed on the floors of homes in which aging seniors are living.  They are just too easy to trip over when balance is already compromised.  Some safety experts allow for double sided sticky tape to be used but it is honestly a better option to rid the home of them.  Cords should be eliminated all together if they are in the path of a walk way.  You can either remove the element that needs electricity or add outlets so that cords can be secured against a wall.
Steps and stairs are tricky enough for older adults.  Make sure that there is plenty of lighting, sturdy handrails and carpets that are secured to the stairs.  Check to ensure there are light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.  Also make sure that nothing is on the stairs that could act as an obstacle such as books, shoes or laundry baskets.
Kitchen safety, bathroom safety and bedroom safety are also major concerns as caregivers to those who are aging in place.  It is important to make sure everything is in reach and stools are not necessary to reach higher items.  Lighting is also important.  It is hard to maneuver around a room when the light is low.  Install extra lighting and multiple nightlights around the house for easy visibility for loved ones.  The bathroom is the number one spot in the home for an accident to occur.  Ensure safety with the use of grab bars, transfer chairs in the tub and non-slip mats installed.
Preventing falls is the main objective.  Make sure your loved one is getting plenty of exercise and keeping mobility at a premium.  Review medicines prescribed to make sure the side effects do not include dizziness or loss of balance. Have a loved one wear shoes while inside is also beneficial as they offer general support and extra grip to the floor.  If a fall does happen ensure that your loved one knows what to do.  It is important to have phones on every floor and emergency numbers programmed into them encase a fall does occur.  Aging in place does not have to be scary as long as precautions are taken and extra care is given to areas taken for granted by most of us.