Six Home Modifications for Seniors to Maximize Life at Home
A study conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) revealed that 90 percent of people age 65 and over are planning to age in place. It's no wonder the market for aging-in-place home modifications has shown considerable growth over the past few years.
Check out this tweet by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) that illustrates this trend.
Aging at home can be a comfortable and economical option for most seniors. Most seniors feel safe and 'at home' in their dwellings. But they can be sites for dangerous accidents, slips, and falls. Plus, inappropriate lighting, clutter, and other settings that aren't senior-friendly can make it challenging for the aging adults of a family to perform daily living activities.
In this post, we've rounded up six home modifications for elderly persons that will help you create a safe and comfortable abode for your aging loved ones. Use these tips to help seniors age in place and make the most of their lives.
How to Make Your Home Senior-Friendly
#1. Involve an Occupational Therapist
It can be tempting not to involve a professional to save some money. However, an experienced occupational therapist knows what it takes to create a safe living space for elders. They recognize that aging is a progression and will propose modifications to accommodate the needs that your senior might have, not just in the present but also in the future.
Ensure you involve a professional to assess the home modifications required to make your dwelling both accessible and safe for your elderly loved one. In some cases, Medicare could cover the cost. So, consider expert opinions (there are many specialized aging in place companies) companies before making any significant modifications.
#2. Maximize Lighting & Reduce Glare
A report published in The Press shares that nearly all seniors suffer from at least one age-related sensory loss. Since each of our senses is crucial in connecting us to the world around us, the absence of one or more of these senses can negatively impact the seniors' quality of life.
Vision is one of the most common senses that gets impaired with age. Multiple studies have shown that by the age of 65, one in three individuals suffer from some form of vision-reducing eye disease. Hence, it's critical to include elder-friendly home adjustments to compensate for this sensory loss.
Start your aging in place house plans with safety: if you have stairs, consider lighting them up with night lights or overhead fixtures. Secondly, choose a subdued but glare-free color for the walls and white ceilings to prevent any glare and reflect the room light better. Also, direct task lighting is excellent for homes with seniors as it allows them to perform their routines easier.
#3. Clear the Clutter
A cluttered house limits mobility and increases the risk of falls. Plus, clutter accumulates dust and tends to get ignored when cleaning. This can attract bugs, rodents, and allergens. Since clutter blocks passages, it can be challenging for anyone to leave the home in emergencies, such as a fire.
It's vital to get rid of the clutter and clear the walkways and passages in an elderly house. This will allow plenty of space for aging in place seniors to move around without fear of tripping or bumping into anything.
#4. Invest in Smart Home Technology
Aging in place is all about living in comfort and safety while maintaining one's independence. Modern smart home technology has a massive role in making spaces comfortable and functional. Also, smart devices are known to protect seniors from threats like intruders, fire, and flooding.
For instance, today's smart security systems can be managed using smartphones. They allow users to arm or disarm the main door alarm from the driveway or control who enters or exits the house through voice commands.
Here are a few safety upgrades that should be considered for homes with seniors:
- Smart smoke detectors
- Leak detection sensors
- Motion sensors and smart lighting
- Video doorbells and cameras
- Voice-activated speakers
- Smart locks and alarm systems
When choosing a device, make sure you opt for those that are simple to operate and can be maintained remotely. Also, the devices shouldn't clutter the home and should function without interrupting a person's everyday life.
#5. Update the Flooring
Slips and falls are the leading cause of severe injuries in seniors age 65 years and older. Often, loose carpets with curled edges, unsecured rugs, and inappropriate flooring contribute to these accidents. Therefore, it's crucial to pay attention to your home's flooring and make repairs when needed.
If you have carpets, make sure they are securely attached to the flooring beneath. Install an ADA-compliant flooring that's slip-resistant and absorbs shocks. Further, the surface you choose should allow wheelchair and walker access, enabling the elder to move around with ease. Because flooring is used every day, it is arguably one of the more essential home modifications for older adults.
#6. Go for Medically Prescribed Home Modifications
Medicare is clear and strict about its payments and is unlikely to cover any home renovations for elderly persons that exceed a certain amount. Yet, it offers up to 80 percent coverage on medically prescribed modifications that are necessary for seniors.
Medicaid, on the other hand, is a little more flexible with home improvement assistance for seniors. It offers several programs, allowing seniors to make home modifications cheaper than nursing home care or moving to assisted living facilities.
Before considering a home modification or selecting aging in place equipment, check what can be covered and what's trickier to get covered. For instance, if a grab bar has been medically prescribed, it can be covered by Medicare as it falls under 'durable medical equipment.'
Though Medicare and Medicaid may not get you all the home modifications you want, they make low-cost home modifications a lot more feasible. Hence, it's wise to do your research before purchasing.
Whether your elderly loved one is living independently or you are caring for them at home, building a safe and comfortable living space for them is a priority in any aging in place plan. Hence, it makes complete sense that you and the senior undertake a fairly major aging-in-place remodeling project. Use the aging in place solutions, tips, and tricks shared above to support your loved ones as they prepare to age in the comfort of their homes.
About the Author
Jeff Hoyt works as the Editor-in-Chief at SeniorLiving. He writes articles that inspire seniors to live a better life independently. Many of his articles have been republished on websites like MSN, AOL, Yahoo, Fox News, and HuffPost, while Reader's Digest has named him a financial expert. He is also a member of the Writers Guild of America and Phi Beta Kappa and has been nominated for an Emmy award. Enjoy his Senior Living YouTube videos.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
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