If, like many seniors, your hope is to remain at home as you grow older, then it’s important to ensure your lifestyle is supporting you in that goal. With some simple modifications, your home can be more accessible to keep you safe and sound through your golden years.

One-Floor Living

First and foremost, your home should be set up with your main living space on the ground floor. Along with aging often comes changes in balance, strength, and flexibility, which means navigating stairs can be difficult. By altering your home for one-floor living, you can reduce your risk of injury. This often means moving the master bedroom to the ground floor. If you need to make that adjustment, consider converting a dining room or den into your bedroom.

House Method also points out your bed should be easy to get in and out of, so alter bed height as necessary by changing the frame or foundation. Your bed should also be comfortable and promote restful, restorative sleep, but many seniors struggle with getting sufficient sleep as they grow older. In fact, many people mistakenly believe we need less sleep as we age, but some scientists believe that lost sleep can put you at an increased risk of falls and memory issues, and perhaps even reduce your lifespan.

Mattresses should be replaced every seven to 10 years, and lumps, bumps, and dips indicate a mattress is ready to be retired. If you’re experiencing back or joint pain, grogginess, or difficulty remaining awake, these might be clues that your mattress is worn out or isn’t the right kind for your sleep style, and you should consider investing in a new one.

Improve Lighting

Waning vision goes hand-in-hand with aging, and seniors often experience increasing trouble with seeing contrasts and depth during the day, and eyes take longer to adjust to the dark at night. By improving your home’s lighting, you can make it easier to get around and stay safe. Try installing some light bulbs which produce bright, white light that mimics daylight, such as from LED and compact fluorescent bulbs. Add more task lighting throughout your home, especially in dim corners and places where you spend a lot of time.

Also, you should think about the places where it can be challenging to see, such as kitchens, office areas, and bathrooms. Consider installing lights inside your medicine cabinets, closets, cabinets, and drawers. Another idea is to add a “clapper” type of device near the bed, or a motion-activated option, helping you to come and go safely at night.

Revamp the Bathroom 

Bathrooms are frequently an area of concern, as water, soap, and slick surfaces can be a recipe for injury. In fact, some statistics indicate 80 percent of senior falls occur in bathrooms, so it’s a key area for making proactive changes. Consider removing your shower door and installing a walk-in shower or tub, and add grab bars, a seat, and a flexible, wand-style showerhead. Instead of a traditional toilet, exchange it for a taller commode that is easier to get on and off.  Add rubber non-slip mats and adhesive strips to improve traction, and make sure toiletries are in easy-to-reach locations to avoid significant stretching and bending.

Change Up the Kitchen

Your kitchen needs to remain a functional and safe workplace as you grow older, and Houzz recommends making some changes to keep it more accessible. For example, put appliances on pull-out shelving and place your microwave at or below countertop height. When selecting appliances, stick with designs that are simple and functional, avoiding ornamental choices that stick out or could become dangerous tripping hazards.

Improved accessibility and clever modifications can help you stay in your home, safely and comfortably.

posted by Eric Rothman

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