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Top Home Modifications For Elderly Individuals

For older adults, bathroom safety modifications and home modifications can help them stay safe as they age in their own homes. Many seniors suffer from physical limitations that can make it difficult to live independently. Learning about ways to improve accessibility at home can reduce falls and other hazards for those with limited mobility.

Top Home Modifications For Elderly And Disabled

There are plenty of permanent and temporary home improvements, kitchen improvements, and bathroom modications that are of critical importance as seniors age.

General House Modifications

Key modifications for the elderly include general fixes that can be done around the home. This can prevent older adults from putting in additional effort as they move around their homes.

  • Widen Doorways - Widening doorways can help seniors who use wheelchairs, canes, or walkers move through rooms with ease
  • Install Ramps - Ramps can also be more comfortable for an older family member and can provide another alternative to stairs that can pose a huge risk to those with mobility issues
  • Remove Throw Rugs - Throw rugs can pose a slipping hazard for seniors, so to prevent falls it is best to avoid them entirely
  • Install Alarm Systems - A low cost way to help an aging loved one is to install security systems around the home to prevent burglaries and break ins
  • Modify Electrical Outlets - Some floor sockets can be difficult to reach so you should assess the modifications required to ensure that outlets are well placed for seniors

Bathroom Modifications

An essential part of home senior care is ensuring that the bathrooms are safe. Since slippery floors and hard tiles can be very dangerous, consider installing a grab bar and other modifications.

  • Add A Transfer Bench - Transfer benches can help those with limited physical strength to get in and out of the tub or shower
  • Include A Safety Bar - Installing grab bars by toilets and showers can help seniors who are living independently
  • Add Automatic Light Switches - Automatic light switches can prevent slips and falls during late night bathroom trips
  • Install Nonslip Flooring - As an alternative to hard and slippery tiles, nonslip vinyl is a much safer choice
  • Consider a Medical Alert Button - A large and easily accessible medical alert button can alert caregivers and authorities of any serious accidents with a single press
  • Install a Walk in Shower - Since a high tub wall can be dangerous for seniors with poor mobility, a walk in shower can provide an accessible way for seniors to get in and out of the shower unassisted

Kitchen Modifications

Some major considerations for the kitchen include ensuring that appliances are acessible, removing or covering sharp counter edges, and ensuring that the whole space is well lit to prevent accidents from occuring.

  • Lower The Sink - A sink for seniors should be around 6 inches deep and not too high. Consider a motorized model for wheelchair users.
  • Adjust The Counter Height - For easy access when chopping fruits and vegetables, or for those in a seated position, countertops should be lower than the standard 36"
  • Replace Handles - A D-shaped handle provides better grip than traditional handles for cabinets, appliances, and doors which is best for those with limited physical strength
  • Optimize Appliance Placement - Ideally, an oven, sink, and refrigerator should be placed close together on the same level to reduce unnecessary motion
  • Use Effective Flooring - Easy to clean and nonslip options like vinyl and linoleum are great choices for the kitchen compared to tiled floors

Identifying What Home Modifications Are Needed

Seniors can ask professionals to help them identify the best home modifications for those that live alone. Identifying these are important for the seniors’ health and well-being, especially since 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries on an annual basis.

Ideally, it is best to consult with a professional occupational therapist or healthcare professional to determine which assistive technologies can best benefit your loved one.

They will need to consider the person's circumstances and living environments a whole to assess which changes would be most helpful for today's needs and those in the future as well.

They can also provide a cost assessment and recommend any free or discounted senior home resources in your area to help reduce the cost of renovations.

Other Home Modification Tips For Seniors

Other lifelong modifications to improve aging in place include:

  • Seek the assistance of an occupational therapist, certified aging-in-place specialist and professional contractor for modifications for the elderly
  • Receive free and affordable resources for home modifications by using online avenues
  • Reduce glare and fix poor lighting around the house to reduce trip hazards
  • Consider using assistive technology for stairs such as lift chairs
  • Install voice-enabled video monitoring and doorbell systems at your front door
  • Consider purchasing a walk in tub instead of a traditional bathtub to prevent fall risk
  • Use contrasting colors to boost visibility (e.g. non slip tape, raised markings on switches)
  • Widen narrow doorways and use swing clear hinges to improve wheelchair accessibility

4 Types Of Financial Assistance For Home Modifications

For low income seniors to receive assistance in order to pay for adaptive technology and other home modifications, here are some resources where they can receive free or discounted aid.

1.  Home Improvement Grants

Senior citizens who meet low-income requirements can qualify for federal grants for home projects, and you can check with your your state/city housing or housing finance agency, your state/city health or human services department, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in your state.

2. Low Interest Loans

The Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) 203(k) rehabilitation loan is a low interest loan for home modifications that can be used to refinance your mortgage and may be a better option than banks that have strict lending requirements.

3. Equipment Loans

Assistance programs in your area may provide free long term loans of home modification materials such as a portable wheelchair ramp or construction tools that can be returned after the borrower doesn't need them anymore.

4. Free Labor

Sometimes, non-profit organizations or charities in your state may offer to make home improvements for seniors on a volunteer basis, provided that you cover the cost of any building materials needed .

Frequently Asked Questions

To help seniors to make smooth transitions as they age, here are some frequently asked questions about home modifications.

What is the purpose of home modifications?

Home modifications aim to reduce risk of injury for people in their own homes while promoting independence for them and their caretakers. For seniors, these can involve adding grab bars and walk in tubs to bathrooms and a stair lift for the stairs.

How can I get a free home modification?

You can get in touch with local organizations in your area that focus on providing certain senior home modifications for free. The more places you reach out to via email or phone call, the better your chances of finding something.

How do seniors modify bathrooms?

Seniors can modify bathrooms by installing lever faucets, adding grab bars, raising the height of the toilet, installing. a walk in shower, getting a sprayer attachment for their shower head, buying a bath tub chair lift, and installing nonslip flooring.

Does Medical cover home modifications?

Unfortunately, medical does not cover the cost of home modifications for seniors and Medicare beneficiaries so you may need to pay for them through grants, low-interest loans, or other means.

What is meant by aging in place?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aging in place is defined as the “the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

Conclusion

In conclusion, home modifications can improve the day to day living of elderly individuals who prefer aging in place through their later years. This can decrease dependency on caregivers, improve overall safety, and prevent falls from occurring.

Read on to learn more about the top senior health and wellness solutions on the market today at Senior Strong!

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