In a community home support agency such as Community Care for South Hastings, we are in the business of assisting older adults to fulfill their dream of remaining independent and safe in their own home for as long as possible. One of the issues our clients are frequently struggling with is accessibility and safety. Here are some basic tips from Home Accessibility 101.
- Minimize the Risk of Falls: One of the simplest ways to prevent falls in and around the home is by removing tripping hazards. This can include simple tasks such as removing rugs in transit areas and picking up any stray objects that may have ended up on the floor. Also make sure any transit areas are clear and easy to maneuver through. Finally, make sure you wipe up any spills immediately to avoid any slips in areas such as the kitchen or the laundry, and make sure any electrical cords are tucked away.
- Install Grab Bars and Lever-Style Door Handles: Do not rely on pieces of freestanding furniture as a place to hold onto as they may tumble or cause extra injury in the event of a fall. Installing simple home accessibility equipment such as grab bars or handrails in dangerous or difficult areas such as hallways, stairs, or the bathroom permits extra comfort and safety.
- Let There Be Light! Make sure your home is well-lit, especially in areas such as entrances, stairs, bathrooms, and hallways. Ensure the areas around both the front and back doors of your house are well-lit to make it as easy as possible to unlock and open the door. Also install some lighting along your driveway, and any paths leading to your front door or backyard. Use nightlights in hallways, bedrooms, and bathrooms to make it safe and easy to move around your home at night. Motion-activated light fixtures are another great alternative to regular lighting.
- Install Automatic Door Openers: It may be worthwhile installing automatic door openers on the interior doors of your house. These basic home accessibility aids will make it extra easy to move around your home, especially if you suffer from conditions that affect your strength and dexterity, such as arthritis. If you find it hard to move through doorways with a mobility aid such as a wheelchair, walker, or scooter, exchange the regular hinges on your doors for offset hinges. Removing round door handles and replacing them with lever-style handles is helpful. Finally, it may prove worthwhile to reduce the threshold of your doorways. Older homes often have a higher threshold and additional tripping hazard.
- Create Senior-Friendly Stairs: Stairs are an obvious risk for seniors wanting to age at home. As previously mentioned, ensure stairways are well lit. Secondly, apply some screw-on aluminium nosing to the leading edge of the stair treads. This will make each stair easy to see and judge, and will also provide a ribbed surface for extra grip for your feet. Also install handrails on both sides of the stairs to make sure you can hold on with both hands. If you are bound to a wheelchair, you may need to consider installing a stair lift to allow you to keep using your stairs.