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We often think that designing a safe home for the elderly is way beyond our budget.
As caregivers, we need to provide ample space for the elderly to keep them safe. We also need to provide them with enough freedom to age in place.
So today, we’ll be sharing budget-friendly renovation ideas to help you create a safer home for your loved one.
Most seniors want nothing more than to keep their independence. And those who choose to age in place are usually in good health and shape.
However, accidents can happen at any time.
Falls are the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related admissions for older people globally. It’s also the leading cause of fatal injury for seniors in the US.
Statistics show that falls account for 25% of elderly hospital admissions and 40% of all nursing home admissions.
40% of those admitted never return to independent living. Unfortunately, 25% of those die within one year.
Seniors with disabilities also have challenges moving around. And it can be a challenge if they’re living alone in a typical home environment.
As people age chronic illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, vision impairment, and other cardiovascular diseases can affect their health. This can hinder them from performing normal tasks at home.
The thing is most home designs are not accessible as a home for the elderly.
Features such as stairs, traditional bathroom layouts, narrow doors and corridors, and not enough lighting pose a danger for seniors.
In fact, only 3.5 percent of US housing units provide the features that a disabled person needs. That includes single floors, wide doorways and hallways, and a zero-step entrance that can accommodate someone in a wheelchair.
It is challenging to work on home modifications and renovations. But it doesn’t always need to be expensive.
Sometimes it needs just a little bit of thoughtfulness and practicality. After all, we want our moms to avoid accidents and maintain their independence.
Read more about preventing falls here.
Families who choose aging-in-place options have unique requirements.
Some elderly folks choose to live with pets. Some have to live with their children with kids for a while.
Others want to keep on living alone and doing their own thing.
And while these scenarios pose different challenges, safety is still the number one priority.
So changes do you need to make sure that your parents are aging in place safely?
In general, you need to make sure that seniors can perform their daily tasks with ease. And a good first step involves forming a plan and paying attention to their habits and needs.
This may be as simple as eliminating common home hazards first.
Create a home safety checklist so you won’t miss minute details, especially if your parents are living alone.
Here are some of the things to put on your checklist:
Some elders may not be as open to changes in their homes. So prioritize practicality over aesthetics.
Combine essentials on the first floor for easier navigation. You can also opt for open spaces instead of cramped rooms and narrow hallways.
It’s also practical to choose the right furniture at home.
Seniors often have erratic sleeping patterns so consider replacing their beds for better sleep.
Hospital beds usually do the job. But also consider alternatives such as adjustable beds with customizable features.
These minor tweaks need not be expensive. And it can help keep you and your family safe and at ease.
The key is to try to walk in their shoes so you could plan and prepare for their safety at their own home.
There are three major areas in a home for the elderly that may require more renovation. That’s the bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.
And as I said, the best aging-in-place house plans focus on practically first.
So here are five must-have home modifications for aging in place.
Common kitchen countertops are usually 34-inches off the floor. Lowering it to 30-inches would be much more elderly-friendly.
Install pullout pantries instead of high cabinets and cupboards.
Pullout pantries make it easy to see everything at a glance. It’s convenient and provides easy access for them.
You can also use pullouts to store appliances like blenders and toasters.
Round the edges of countertops and open shelves to avoid hitting hips and elbows.
Keep the sink close to the stove but provide enough workspace in between.
Consider using an induction cooker instead of an electric or gas range.
You also need to ensure slip-resistance floors.
Oil splatters and water drips can cause slippage. So choose the flooring that offers good slip resistance.
Most homes are designed with a tub and a shower. But these pose a great risk for those aging in place.
Tub cuts are a convenient and inexpensive option to convert a traditional tub to a walk-in shower.
You can also go for a curbless shower instead. This is also a great option for the disabled so they could navigate better.
Raised toilets are also practical to use. You can choose raised toilet seat attachments based on your needs.
There are simple ones that you just install. There are also seats with removable handles for extra assistance. It can also be adjusted, especially for those with hip replacement surgery.
Grab bars are also vital for movement assistance.
It’s also important to widen doors to 36 inches to provide room for walking aids.
Non-slip tiles make it safer for elders too.
Rubber flooring is also ideal. It’s easy to clean, doesn’t get slippery, and provides padding in case of falls.
Smart home assistants and devices make living today much easier. And the best part is, it’s accessible and easy to use.
Smart home hubs like Amazon Echo and Google Home can connect and automate all your devices.
And because it’s hands-free, it can be a great option for seniors suffering from arthritis.
Smart speakers can also act as virtual assistants. You can set it up with voice commands to help around the home or call people in case of emergencies.
Smart door locks also provide an extra layer of security who often forget their keys.
Robot vacuums and other smart gadgets can keep homes clean and debris-free. These come with sensors that avoid obstacles. It also works on any type of flooring.
I’m sure seniors with pets will love it too. These vacuums are powerful enough to pick up pet hair as well, saving them time and effort in cleaning.
Mobility is key especially for the elderly who are suffering from issues like arthritis, vision and hearing impairment, or recent surgeries.
Proper lighting is necessary at home. Elders who are experiencing vision changes can easily trip and fall from glares and reflections.
To avoid eye strain, consider pull-down shades and draperies to reduce sunlight glares. Window tints also let you see outside while reducing glares.
Installing smart light bulbs and smart plugs can let you control the household remotely. You can even put it on schedule and automate it at night.
Avoid using sealants and waxes that leave a glossy finish to limit their reflections.
Elderly people can also be sensitive to flickering lights and humming. Check on fluorescent fixtures and change them periodically.
Smoke alarms should also be equipped with flashing lights for the hearing impaired.
Nowadays, tactile tools and gadgets can also make living independently much easier.
There are liquid level sensors and indicators for cups and glasses to limit spillage. Knives with adjustable guides are also available for safe use.
Seniors are often sentimental. It can get difficult for them to let go of mementos and trinkets that hold meaning to them.
Sadly, clutter also causes accidents and falls.
You might find it hard to convince moms to let go of 30-year-old macaroni cards, but it’s the best way to go.
So how do you manage this difficult process?
Take it a step at a time. Start with one corner or room and have boxes ready for segregation.
There will always be resistance since they hold these things dearly. So it’s best to offer options on how to keep the memories without the mementos.
Take photos of these items instead of keeping them. Decide which items are still good for donations.
Discard anything too bulky or impractical like broken appliances and couches.
And keep in mind that it’s OK to ask for help.
Decluttering doesn’t have to be a one-time big-time thing. You can schedule it in advance so you could also do it at your own pace.
It also helps to put organizing baskets with labels around the house. This strategy will assist seniors in knowing where to find things and where to put them back.
Set and store important documents in a secure, designated area.
Take note of the common items they often use and make sure it’s easily accessible to them.
Most of all, make sure your loved ones are involved in the process. You can even use this time to catch up or talk about happy memories together.
Try and make the experience enjoyable and not stressful for them.
Read more about design guidelines for elderly homes here.
Home renovations for the elderly can be costly. But there’s always help available when you need it.
Here are my best tips to help you minimize home renovation costs.
Like everything else, start with ample planning.
You don’t have to spend so much time and resources to get started. But you need to plan how to maximize your energy and still be at peace.
Any change can be difficult, so start with small changes.
Decide on decluttering and organizing the space first. Creating an open, breathable space can make a huge difference.
You can always check for benefits and financial assistance options available to you.
You can also ask your state about these benefits.
Avoid DIYs as much as possible because they may cause more problems than fix them.
Talk to experts like occupational therapists, interior designers, and contractors for practical designs and manageable costs.
You might think that hiring professionals is expensive. But injuries and medical bills can cost more.
It’s best to consult with experts so you could save time, energy, and resources to keep your loved one safe at home.
Having a safer home for the elderly doesn’t require as much as you think.
Sometimes you just need to make little tweaks here and there to keep your loved ones safe.
And if you need major renovations, working with experts will save you more.
Let me know how I can help you make your home safer for your mom. Email [email protected] with any questions or to schedule a consultation.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!