Almost 90 percent of seniors say they want to stay in their own homes as they age. That means almost 4.5 million Canadian adults over 65-years-old want to age in place and this number is set to rise steeply over the next half-decade as the Baby Boomer generation gets older.
Aging in place is no easy task, especially making sure you are safe and comfortable at home as you enjoy your golden years. There are measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injury so you can age at home with peace of mind. Here are five of the easiest actions you can take right now to safeguard yourself and create a suitable living environment for later life.
1. Install Grab Bars And Other Supports
Installing grab bars and other supports is one of the most surefire ways to avoid falling and injuring yourself while aging at home. Make sure to add grab bars to your bathroom, especially around the bathtub and shower, so you can keep steady in an often wet and slippery environment where the body is vulnerable.
Stairs are another area where grab bars and supports come in handy. Put handrails on both sides of all steps and stairways and make sure they are at a user-appropriate height and properly secured to the walls. Lastly, add a grab bar, railing or bench near the front door so you can eliminate the odds of becoming unbalanced and falling while putting on shoes or picking up a package from your doorstep.
2. Put In Extra Lighting
Adding extra lighting to your house is one small way to avoid dangerous situations that will have a huge effect. Ensure there is exterior lighting at all entrances and that outdoor light fixtures have sensors programed to automatically turn on at at dusk (or when motion-activated) and off at dawn.
Install suitable task lighting for the sink, stove and other work areas so you can see properly when chopping vegetables, reaching for a hot kettle or even doing some work in your workshop. Give yourself extra lighting around staircases, make sure these lights can be turned on and off at the top and bottom of the stairs and put in automatic night-lights near steps and staircases.
3. Declutter Your Living Space
Tripping hazards abound in most households. Cutting down on the number of obstacles will give you room to move around without thinking twice about tripping or bumping into something. It’s crucial that all stairs and areas near stairs are clear of clutter. The same goes for doorways, so you aren’t maneuvering around items when getting past steps, lips, ice and door frames.
Take a look around every room in your house and provide clear walking paths for yourself. That means that furniture is near the walls and away from entrances and that you have designated spaces for items you may collect on a frequent basis, such as newspapers and gifts. It’s also a smart idea to ensure all cords and wires are tucked away and not crossing over well-trafficked areas of your house.
4. Make Things More Accessible
Small changes to several areas of your house can make everyday activities much safer, easier and enjoyable, especially as you age and become more likely to experience joint pain and limited mobility. For example, change out doorknobs and bulky handles on doors, cabinets and drawers for D-shaped, lever-style handles. Make sure your kitchen has pull-out cabinetry or shelves, Lazy Susans and a lever-style faucet
More generally, make sure all your heavily-used items, such as cookware, toiletries and clothes, are on lower shelves or drawers. Additionally, make sure the stove or cooktop controls are near the front of the device so the cook doesn’t need to reach over the flame or hot pots.
5. Decorate With More Carpets And Rugs
Making your house aging-in-place-friendly doesn’t mean you have to forget about your passion for decorating. In fact, it’s the opposite. The benefits of installing carpet is one way you can put your own little flair into adjusting your home to fit your desire to age in place.
Carpet, especially on stairs, offers better traction so you reduce the risk of falling. Carpet and rugs also offer a much softer landing for if you do fall and cushion your feet when standing for long periods of time, which takes pressure off your legs and joints. Just make sure that all carpets and rugs fit firmly on the ground so they do not become tripping hazards.