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How to modify your home for an elderly family member: A room-by-room guide
According to a report from The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, only one percent of U.S. housing is currently equipped with the proper assets to allow older people to age and live comfortably in their homes. The same study projects that by the year 2035, one in three households will be lived in by someone 65 or older. And the majority of these Baby Boomers have no intention of leaving—they want to grow old at home.
So how can you modify your living space to meet the needs of yourself or a family member in their later years? Here’s a step-by-step, room-by-room guide. Try to include as many, if not all, of the bullet points listed in each section of the house. (If you’re trying to meet the needs of an individual with a specific diagnosis, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has created caregiving tips based on the medical condition your loved one has).
- There is at least one step-free entrance or a ramp.
- Walkways are well-lit and free of anything that could become a walking hazard.
- Handrails are on both sides of the walkway or stairs.
- The door should be easy to lock or unlock.
- At least one entrance is wide enough to squeeze a wheelchair through.
- Securely tape any loose rugs to the floor to eliminate tripping hazards.
- Rearrange furniture to create walking paths.
- Lower the cabinets and sink for wheelchair access.
- Any turn-style sink faucets or handles have been replaced with a lever or sensor-style faucet.
- There is an easily-accessible space for someone in a wheelchair to cook and prepare food, like a lowered countertop or table.
- If possible, install a microwave door.
- Install a walk-in shower or tub.
- If a walk-in tub can’t be easily installed, add a transfer bench, which allow individuals to get in and out of wheelchairs and tubs with little to no assistance.
- Place grab bars and handrails around the walls.
- Replace your toilet with a high-rise one or add a riser.
- Put a shower chair in your walk-in tub.
- Install a hand-held shower head for easy bathing while sitting.
- Place nonslip strips or mats in the bathtub.
- Install a chair lift or (if possible) an elevator.
- If there’s carpeting, ensure it’s in good condition. Adhesive nonslip strips are a good addition.
- Are there smoke detectors on each floor?
- Have one light control switch at the top and the bottom of the stairs.
- Fix or replace broken handrails.
- Install a nightlight for those with visibility issues.
- Closets have adjustable shelves and hangers.
Let ComForCare Palm Beach become an integral care partner for you and your loved one. Our personalized care plans and compassionate caregivers help seniors live independently in their own homes and continue to do all the things they love.
To learn more, visit palmbeach.comforcare.com or call 561-630-1620.