Today’s guest post is from Claire Bradshaw. Claire has personal experience of caring for elderly grandparents and knows the difference small changes to the home can make to their quality of life. Amongst other projects, she writes for a website that offers advice on stairlifts and she tries to incorporate practical tips on how to live a greener lifestyle into her work.
Homes that were not built with aging in mind can often become dangerous to their owners, whose bodies have become more fragile through the years. Even if seniors stay relatively healthy, weakening muscles, problems with balance, and a lack of visual acuity may necessitate that changes be made to keep them safer within their own homes.
Thankfully, many issues are easily solved with some minor adaptations which will allow the elderly to live independently and remain in their beloved homes much longer. The goal of any changes should be to prevent falls, make mobility easier, and to provide additional safety precautions. Through careful planning, many of these adaptations can be done in an eco-friendly way.
Ways of Preventing Falls For the Elderly
About a third of all falls in the senior population are caused by some element within the home. The following adaptations may need to be made to decrease the likelihood of falling.
• Place handrails on all outer steps, beside the bath or shower, and next to the toilet.
• Consider height adjustable furniture, such as chairs and beds. These may also be purchased second-hand, but they should be carefully checked for structural problems.
• To make the stairs safer, look into the option of stairlift rental to spread the cost, or purchase a reconditioned model from a reputable supplier, which will be a cheaper and greener option than buying new.
Getting around is not quite as simple for the elderly, and many need canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to move from one place to another. The following changes may be necessary at some point:
• Replace steps with ramps to make navigation easier.
• Widen all doorways and narrow passages.
• Remove any loose rugs from the floors. These are one of the biggest causes of falling.
• Replace tubs with walk in showers which contain a seat.
Added Safety Precautions in Homes of the Elderly
While it is difficult to prevent every accident through adaptations in the home, this is the objective. The following ideas may also be useful changes to make to improve life for elderly people:
• Place plenty of environmentally friendly fluorescent lights throughout the house, and lower the switches so that they can be reached from a seated position.
• Because seniors tend to be colder and less active than others, it may be necessary to add additional insulation to the walls and attics to prevent heat loss. This will keep heating bills manageable and make them more comfortable.
• Reorganize cabinets so that the items used most often do not require bending or reaching.
• Consider a personal alarm that will notify someone quickly in case of a fall or other emergency.
Aging brings new challenges every day, but most elderly people want to stay in their own homes as long as possible. While many children want their parents to have a new home that has been custom fitted for senior living, most prefer to upgrade the one in which they have lived for years, and this is the best option for the environment as well because it uses fewer of our valuable natural resources.