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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

7 Important Modifications for Senior Housing

The hardest thing in life to admit is that we are getting older, and with that comes different challenges to everyday life. This stubbornness in acknowledging our age and limitations can create significant health and safety issues in the home for many seniors. The best advice is to prepare your home before you lose mobility, or an unforeseen medical event occurs.

Here are my 7 of the most important home modifications that seniors can make to the home now to prepare for loss of mobility. Just a few changes in your home could keep you independent for a longer period which is the goal of most over the age of 65.

  • Remodel your bathroom and make it ADA compliant. Have grab bars installed in commode and shower areas to prevent slippage. Be sure these grab bars are properly blocked behind the drywall so they do not give way in the event they must stop a sudden fall. One clever idea is to modify your shower to allow a roll in option with a wheelchair. This is being done every day in retirement communities through Central Florida.

  • Most older homes have doors which are less than 36 inches wide, and this restricts wheelchairs and hospital beds. Look at the doors in your home, especially in your bedrooms and bathrooms, and try to redesign the space so that doors can be widened to 36 inches. It’s not as costly as you might think.

  • Normally, ramps are not installed in homes until mobility is lost, but for seniors, steps, especially steep steps are a hazard. Modify steps with less rise and if you can, change steps for gradual slopping solutions to the home.

  • Falling is one of the biggest dangers in the home. Take a look at what you are walking on in your home and replace any flooring that is slippery. Slick vinyl and ceramic tile flooring can be deadly, and if you find yourself slipping on it, get rid of it. Next, look closely at transition areas of your floor. These are the areas where it may go from tile to carpet. High transition pieces are toe trips that will cause a senior to tumble. Along those same lines, if you have a piece of ceramic tile that is not flush with a slight kick-up, that can also be a big safety issue. Use texture flooring with few transition areas.

  • When you are unsteady, especially as you get older, you tend to grab hold of items to keep your balance. A simple, beautiful way to create steadiness in your home is through chair rail moulding installed in the home. Typically, the chair-rail is installed 32 to 36 inches off the floor and if you use a large one, it is perfect to help maintain balance. It also looks great and will protect your walls against damage.

  • How you use colors in your home can really help keep you independent. If you use contrasting colors on flooring, in bathroom areas, and in kitchens it helps those with vision issues to differentiate separate areas. For example, an all-white kitchen creates trip hazards, falls, and a lot of accidental drops because seniors with poor eyesight and depth perception can’t distinguish separate areas. Dropping hot pots of liquids off a counter can be extremely dangerous and it happens regularly due to lack of ability to differentiate colors.

  • Finally, hearing becomes challenging as we get older, and for many older couples, noise can create a lot of angst and arguments with a partner. Investing in interior sound-proof doors and insulation is a great investment for the peace and sanity of your partner. For example, if a husband can’t hear well and he goes into the den to watch television, a sound-proof door and wall in the bedroom could allow his wife to rest comfortably.

Most seniors don’t like thinking about mobility issues nor do they like investing in home aging-related renovations while they are still active, but the clock stops for no one. Additionally, aging-related modifications increase the value and appeal of your home, especially if you are in a 55-plus community. Start getting your home ready to age in place, and that way you can enjoy the freedom and contentment of being independent longer.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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