It’s not to say we shouldn’t think about the future. We need to because we don’t know what our needs will be when we’re in our 70’s or 80’s. We may be fairly healthy at the moment, but we also know that things can change. If you’re caring for your parents right now, you’ve already learned that. If, like me, your parents have already gone on to Heaven, you could be thinking about what your own future may be like with respect to care needs. Do I stay put? ( “Age in Place”) OR do I move?
This article is to discuss “staying put.” And if that choice is made, there are definitely ways to make our home safe and more senior-friendly, as we move through our ‘day to day” activities. In fact if needed, these ideas can also apply to our aging parents as well. It’s not to say that everyone can “age in place” for the rest of their lives; but certainly whatever time we add to staying in our own homes is a ‘plus’ in so many ways.
Several years ago, I remember going through our parents’ home and making several safety-based changes to allow them to safely “stay put” longer. Now, however, there is a profession that specializes in helping people stay safely in their homes. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) will come in and review your home room by room, ask questions about your conditions and habits, provide an evaluation report and go over it with you. Most will recommend providers who can do the work for you, but basically, you will make the choice of who the contractor will be. For you in the Portland area, I recently met a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.
So, to get you started, the following ideas are offered from The Senior Care Organizer, along with The Complete Eldercare Planner (chapter 10), by Joy Loverde.
- Refer to previous article: https://www.seniorcareorganizer.com/bathroom-safety-for-seniors/ The addition of safety bars is real important.
- Turn a tub into a shower – This worked well for our parents. Take a look at the following videos and you’ll see what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=ug38p7RpC_c and http://www.safewaystep.com/SafewayFLV/
- Replace door knobs with door handles. [Arthritic hands make it difficult to turn a knob].
- Remove throw rugs and any clutter on the floors to reduce/prevent falls
- Be sure there is easy access to doorways and windows
- Make sure the front door has a “peephole” for checking on who is at the door
- Electrical outlets should be accessible. Are appliance and electric cords safe to use?
- Install nightlights in the bathrooms, hallway, kitchen
- Make sure any stairs are non-slippery, well lit, and have a handrail
- Smoke detectors should be present and in working condition
- If none in place, consider having a carbon monoxide detector
- Outdoor steps? There should be a handrail.
- Steps difficult to maneuver? Consider placing a ramp for accessibility.
- When it becomes more difficult to take care of the yard, employ a family member or other individual to mow the lawn, weed, etc. to reduce the possibility of injury.
- Windows should be secured so as not to allow easy entrance for intruders.
- Is there motion sensor lighting?
It’s a fact… we’re all going to be older and our lives will change in various ways. Many of us will be able to stay in our homes late into our senior years, but some will not. However for the time being, we can make a concerted effort to prepare our home to be as safe as possible for us to live in.
“Every day is a new day unless we drag it in the past” Anonymous