Home safety remodeling for senior adults

For senior adults with mobility challenges, simple everyday activities like bathing, cooking, laundry and climbing stairs can become increasingly difficult. Unfortunately, most Heights-area homes are not designed to support the decline in physical ability that often occurs with age.

To enable seniors to continue living safely at home, several home improvements can be made. Some are simple and others are more complex, depending on the layout of the home and the needs of the individual. Following are just some of the options available.

In the bathroom, install grab bars near the toilet for stability, and in the bathing area to help prevent slipping. Installing a taller toilet makes it easier to sit down and get up. Add a walk-in door to the bathtub, or replace the tub with a step-in shower. A fold-down seat and a hand-held sprayer make bathing easier.

In the kitchen, convert the lower cabinets to pullout drawers for easy access to frequently used items. Install lighting under the upper cabinets to provide more illumination on the countertop. Faucets with lever handles and pullout sprayers make clean up easier.

For those with difficulty climbing stairs, add exterior ramps at the front and side doors of the house. Install an electric chair lift on interior stairs. If space permits, install a full bathroom on the first floor, and convert a dining room or den into a bedroom, for first-floor living. A stackable washer-dryer unit installed in a first-floor closet facilitates laundering.

For seniors confined to wheelchairs, widen the interior doorways of the home for easier passage. Replace the bathtub with a roll-in shower, and the vanity with a wall-mounted sink. Install a flip-up countertop in the kitchen at wheelchair height.

The benefits of these remodeling projects are many. The cost is usually far less than that of nursing-home care, and some of the costs are tax deductible. It brings great peace of mind for families to know their loved one is safe at home. Most important, it enables the senior to retain the dignity of independent living for as long as possible.

It is best to plan ahead and get these remodeling projects done before an accident occurs, so that the family is not dealing with construction and a family crisis at the same time. Architects and construction companies experienced in safety remodeling can perform a home safety analysis to help plan the remodeling project.

Judith Eugene

Judith Eugene is a native of Cleveland Heights who provides life-enrichment classes and activities for senior adults and those with physical and mental challenges through www.LovingHandsGroup.com. She may be reached at 216-408-5578.

Read More on The Senior Section: a resource guide for senior adults
Volume 5, Issue 4, Posted 10:48 AM, 04.04.2012