Senior Living Advice: Easy Fixes make a World of Difference for Loved Ones
By Beth Dow, Solutions By Beth
The holidays are just around the corner. Many of you will be traveling to see aging family members. This is a perfect time to look around your loved one’s home for easy, inexpensive changes that can make a world of difference; not just in their safety and security, but will help insure that they will be able to remain in their home longer.
As we age, we need as much light as possible to prevent trips, falls and just to see better. Installing automatic or motion sensitive lights outside of exterior doors will help light paths and entry ways. Traditional “key entry” doors can easily be converted to touch screen or remote entry locks. Exterior and interior doors that have lever hardware are easier to use than the traditional circular hardware and can be changed without much skill needed.
Inside the home, brighten rooms by adding extra lamps or installing new light kits to existing ceiling lighting. On the walls, “rocker” light switches are easier to use than traditional switches. Replacing electrical socket plates with wall plates with LED night lights will provide much needed lighting at night making those midnight water and bathroom trips safer.
In the kitchen and bath, cabinet handles that are “D” shaped are easier to grab. Installing “pull out” shelves in cabinets can also greatly help your loved one find items more easily. Installing stove top fire suppressors will ensure that if something is accidently left on the stove, the smoke will trigger the extinguisher and will quickly stop a fire before it begins. Check that there is a fire extinguisher in the kitchen – easy to reach – and that your loved one knows how to use it. Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries.
In the bathroom, grab bars can look unattractive. But replacing traditional towel racks with new stylish towel racks that double as grab bars, can provide safety without screaming – “old persons bathroom!” As we age, muscle mass declines making rising from a sitting position more difficult. Consider replacing old toilets (16 inches) with a new comfort height toilet (17 to 19 inches). A shower chair or bench, with a hand held shower head, will help round out the bathroom to make it a much safer place.
It doesn’t take a lot of skill, time or money to make your loved one’s home safer. When asked, most everyone wants to stay in their home as long as they can. Help your loved this holiday season by showing them how small changes can add years to their time in their home.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd, Geriatric Case Manager and Certified Senior Advisor. She speaks at and hosts many workshops throughout the year covering various topics of senior living and caregiving. If you would like information regarding Beth speaking at your next event or training, email: [email protected].