You can make many changes to make your home more accessible for seniors. They range from something small like planning a future weekend visit from an elderly family member to something more significant like allowing access to a senior who uses a wheelchair to your home and garden. Even simply making your home safer for seniors can make a huge difference regarding accessibility.
Many experts have said that one of their big mistakes in senior care is ignoring accessibility. There is a common complaint from seniors who said they couldn’t get into or around their kids’ homes. So, learning from this mistake, we should always make our homes more accessible for senior family members.
Start Talking About Accessibility
I know that it might feel awkward to ask someone what changes they’d like you to make before they come to visit. However, it is one of the best ways to know for sure what your home is missing. Check on what senior family members need to be able to move around easily in and around your home. You can also book a home visit with Age Co Mobility or similar accessibility experts. They can ensure your home is well equipped for visits from ageing family members.
Get everyone involved in the discussion; even better if you can do this privately with each individual. Physical disabilities and ageing present various challenges that may or may not be known to everyone. Even the smallest adjustments can make a huge difference; the NHS has put together this list of home adaptions you might find helpful.
Hopefully, these tips below can help you in making some accessibility adjustments.
Make space to move around
There are some spots in a home that should be big enough for mobility devices. For example, the walkways where people would need to be able to manoeuvre their ways around. Besides, clearing the walkways can make your entire home look much cleaner and make it safer for everyone to walk around.
You can start by clearing the walkways of loose rug edges, unused furniture, or loose power cords. Look down and see if there’s anything else you can do to take the walkways roomier. If you’ve been planning to move some furniture away, this is the perfect chance to do it. Make sure nothing can trip or trap anyone trying to move around.
Elevate your seating
Getting up from sitting positions is a struggle for seniors and people with reduced stamina and pain. Don’t make it more difficult for them to get off their chairs. However, this could happen without you realizing it, especially if your chairs and sofas are too low.
A simple solution to this problem is putting a firm foam cushion on sofas and lower chairs. This way, you can provide a bit of height without spending much money and time. Bed risers under a sofa can be a great solution as well. The main idea here is to make people sit at a 90-degree angle with their hips and knees able to push off the couch quickly.
However, remember that you could do the opposite regarding your table. For example, if a senior uses a wheelchair, you want them to sit down and have a meal with everyone. If your table is too high, that person will have a lot of difficulties eating at the table. The rule of thumb here is the table should be between 28 to 34 inches high.
Basic home maintenance
This tip is more about the overall state of your home. Try to have a weekend to-do list about things you can do that make minor improvements over time. The ultimate goal here is to make your home safer for the seniors in your life.
Minor improvements like securing raised floorboards, a toilet riser, and temporary lift rails (for toilet independence), tightening loose railings, and fixing leaks can improve the accessibility of your home. Don’t forget to ensure that all the windows can open and close easily and that no doors are stuck on the carpet. If someone has requested a specific assistive device, you can get it from big box stores.
Improve the lighting
Here is a simple tip that can do a lot to improve the lighting in your home. Many seniors are struggling due to their poor eyesight. If your home doesn’t have enough lamps, especially in strategic areas, they might be struggling to move around comfortably.
If you realize that your home is not bright enough, don’t worry, many homeowners are in the same situation. Besides, fixing this problem is relatively easy. You can start by replacing your old bulbs with new, better ones. Because what you need might not be more bulbs, but better bulbs.
Now check around the house and see if there are darker spots than the rest. You can ask your senior family members if there are certain areas in the home that they think are too dark. Then you can install more light bulbs in these areas.
To make it even better, you can install motion or voice-activated lights. Nowadays, you can easily install intelligent home software.
Make ways around the steps
Steps are always a dangerous area for seniors. For guests or seniors with mobility issues, climbing stairs to enter a home or a room can be challenging. Each step can be a real issue. Fortunately, you can make the stairs less demanding.
The easiest solution would be installing extra railings and an external grab bar. This is useful if there are stairs before the entrance of your home. Or, if there is another entrance with less or no stairs, you can lead the senior family member that way as a short-term solution.
Installing a permanent ramp would be the best long-term solution. But if it’s not a viable solution for you, you can consider renting or buying a temporary ramp. There is also an interior threshold ramp that can help seniors using wheelchairs to move in and out. Check with the local stores to see if one is available.
Update bathrooms and bedrooms
This part is crucial for many seniors. Bed rails to help them get up from the bed, making sure no blanket ends are on the floor, and laying out extra pillows or towels can be effective at ensuring no accidents happen.
A nonskid bathmat next to the tub is essential so everyone in the house can be independent and stay safe. Consider the inside of the tub as well. Using suction cup nonskid material is a great idea. Also, offer seats with handles so seniors can push up safely and easily.
Many small improvements can be made over time to improve your home. And every bit of improvement will benefit not only certain people but also everyone in and around the house.