Aging gracefully at home

2003/4/29

Simple modifications such as sturdy bars you can grab to get in and out of the tub wide doorways to allow easy wheelchair access to rooms and lever door handles that replace hard-to-turn round knobs can make all the difference for elderly who live in their own homes.

Senior advocacy groups call it "aging in place" - staying in comfortable and familiar surroundings even if aging diminishes your ability to perform the tasks of daily routines that once came so easily.

To help make houses more senior friendly experts offer these ideas to help make daily living easier and safer for seniors:

  • Make sure there's access to a first-floor bathroom if possible. 
  • Use bathmats and rugs with non-skid backings and secure rugs with double-sided tape. 
  • Install an adjustable-height or handheld showerhead and an adjustable-height shower seat if needed.
  • Widen or clear pathways into rooms. 
  • Post emergency numbers and a list of current medications near the phone and making sure a phone with a cord is near the bed.
  • Make sure all railings are secure and sturdy and that stairwells have railings on both sides. 
  • Increase lighting at entranceways. 
  • Leave lights on or add motion sensors in rooms or hallways that seniors walk through after dark. 
  • Make sure at least one outside entrance has no steps; use a ramp if necessary.

Of course modifications will depend on individual needs. And it's a good idea to assess which routines or tasks prove difficult what the resident used to do but no longer can and which modifications would provide solutions.