How Seniors Can Ensure Safety and Independence at Home

Guest post by June Duncan of Rise Up for Caregivers    (Photo from Pixabay)

For many people, living at home throughout their golden years is a priority.  In fact, some statistics indicate as many as 90% of seniors prefer to age in place.  If you are like the vast majority of those who hope to remain in your personal home as you grow older, read on for important advice. 

New takes on traditional homes

Traditional home styles don’t support aging in place in many ways.  However, there are often simple alterations seniors can make to help accommodate their aging bodies.  Start by making sure you remove tripping hazards throughout your home, and replace plush carpeting with non-slip flooring options or low-pile carpet.  Aging eyes can benefit from changes in lighting, such as brighter light bulbs.  Also add lamps and fixtures in work areas, such as the kitchen.  Adding a pull-out board in the kitchen makes it easy to sit while you work, and consider putting in some roll-out storage as well. 

Sometimes, more significant home renovations are in order.  For instance, you can create a step-free entryway with the addition of a wheelchair ramp, which is a boon whether you use an assistive device or not.  Embracing a one-floor lifestyle can be helpful, so you don’t need to navigate stairs.  This sometimes means giving up a dining room or den to create a master suite, with a laundry area on your main floor.  Ensure you have an accessible bathroom on the main floor as well.  If you need to hire a contractor, read through these guidelines from How to Home so you are familiar with what all is involved.  For example, you’ll need to be ready to explain all the work you want completed, how much you can spend, and your general timeline. 

If you just need a few small projects completed, you might decide to hire a handyman.  A handyman differs from a contractor in a couple of important ways.  Most areas don’t require a handyman to have any special licensing or certification, and they may or may not carry insurance.  As a result, they tend to have less scope and less-specialized skills, and aren’t normally well-suited to major renovations. However, they could potentially help you with smaller jobs. 

Reducing your risks

One of the biggest risks to seniors is falling, and it’s an issue that can fully undermine health and independence.  According to the National Council on Aging, falls are one of the leading causes of injury in elderly people, with a quarter of all Americans suffering a fall every year.  Those falls can result in serious injuries, hospital stays, depression, financial downfalls, and even death.

As Better Health While Aging explains, there are many reasons seniors are at an increased risk for falling.  Aside from environmental issues, such as slipping and tripping hazards, people tend to lose the ability to recover from falls as they age.  Basically, when they become off-balance, they aren’t as able to avoid the fall the way younger people can.  Sometimes, medical issues and prescription medications contribute to falling, although reduced strength, reflexes, balance, and flexibility also are factors. 

Talk with your doctor beforehand, but consider embracing an exercise regimen aimed toward reducing your risk of falls.  If you don’t like to drive or go to a gym, you can do strength training at home with just a chair, mat, and enough floor space to stretch out.  There are easy flexibility exercises you can do as well, and also be sure to add some balance training to your routine.  To improve your reflexes, one fun suggestion is to play some video games.

If you are like many people, you would prefer to stay in your own home throughout your golden years.  With some preparations and planning, your home can better support your aging body, helping you to remain safe and secure.  At the same time, you can adjust your habits to help you remain strong and independent.  Aging in place can be more than just your desire; it can be your lifestyle.

This mission of Riverstone Senior Life Services is to provide a wealth of services for seniors so that they may stay safely in their own homes and community with highest quality of life for as long as they choose.

Contact us today for specific information that can help you and your loved ones to age appropriately in place.