Your home is a sanctuary, and you should feel safe and at peace while you’re in it. However, having a mobility disability can make it hard to comfortably relax at home. Thankfully, there are things that you can do to make your home safe, senior-friendly, and help you live independently for as long as you can. In this article, we’ll discuss a few helpful tips that you can you use to make your home accessible, as well as modifications that you can make to re-create your sanctuary.
4 Quick Tips for Making a Seniors’ Living Room Safe & Accessible
- 1Labeled cupboards: As we get older, forgetfulness can become a re-occurring problem. Labeling and organizing your cabinets and cupboards will keep you organized, clutter-free, and eliminate the hassle of looking around to find something.
- 2Eliminate carpet: While carpet is soft and can cushion the blow of a fall, it’s a tripping hazard and it increases the risk of falling. It’s great that carpet is can lessen the blow of the fall, but it would be best to eliminate the risk of falling at all.
- 3Widen the doorways and hallways: This can be a pretty expensive modification, but well worth it if you use walkers, wheelchairs, or mobility scooters. Most houses aren’t built to fit mobility aids. Modifying the doorways and hallways will make getting around your house easier and can lower the need of having someone help you get around your home.
- 4Lever handles: If you have arthritis, the action of turning a doorknob may be painful. Adding levers to the doors, cabinets, and faucets will make it easier to open things without hurting yourself.
Floors & Walkways to Improve Safety & Accessibility
Suction Cup Non-Slip Bath Mat – Courtesy of Home Rises
A non-slip mat is something that every senior should have in their home. Falls are the most common injury among older adults, and they’re one of the leading reasons for elongated hospital stays. The CDC reported that more than 80% of these falls can be attributed to slips and falls in the bathroom. Having a sturdy and well-built mat placed in front of the sinks and bathtub will drastically reduce your chance of slipping. Most non-slip mats have suction cups on the bottom of them to maintain their hold on the ground. If you find that your mat no longer has a good grip, you should replace it immediately.
Non-slip Rug Pads Courtesy of Rug Pad USA
Non-slip rugs are ideal for hardwood floors, and they’re equipped with non-slip rug pads that keep the rug in place. However, rugs, in general, can present a tripping hazard. Rolled up corners or wrinkles in the material can cause a serious accident.
Care at Home – Courtesy of AARP
If you live in a 2+ story house, you’ll want to ensure that your stairs are safe to use. Without the proper modifications, you’ll increase your risk of falling and hurting yourself, as well as open the possibility of moving your sleeping area downstairs because you can longer go up and down the stairs safely. Adding stair rails, preferably on both sides, can reduce the likelihood of an injury and help you maintain an independent lifestyle. Make sure that your rails are installed correctly and securely to prevent rapid wear and tear. Here’s a list of modifications you can make to your staircase to make it safer and easily accessible.
You can also add handrails to any stairs/ramps that you may have outside of your house. They’ll allow you to come and go as you want freely without the fear of hurting yourself. Here are a few recommended tips when installing handrails to your outdoor staircase/ramp:
- Pay attention to the width of the rail: A rail that’s too thin can be painful to grab for older adults suffering from arthritis. Having a thick, non-slippery rail will be easier to grip.
- Pay attention to how steep the stairs are: The steepness of the stairs will, of course, affect the steepness of the rail. Consult an expert to learn how steep is too steep. Stairs that are too steep ill require a stairlift.
- Make sure it’s stable: Most seniors use handrails to support some of their body weight. You’ll want to be sure that your handrails, both indoors and outdoors, will be strong enough to support you.
Click here to learn more tips on how you can make your outdoor staircase/ramp safer to use.
Couches and Chairs to Improve Safety & Accessibility
Lift chairs are designed to make sitting down and getting up from a seated or standing position easier and less impactful on your knees, hips, and legs. These chairs are motor-powered and self-controlled to gently help you go from a seated position to a standing one. Additionally, when the chair is raised, it decreases the distance needed for you to safely sit down. Lift chairs can reduce pain in your joints, stain on your lower body, and they can help you maintain your independence. There are three main types of lift chairs available. They include:
- Two-position lift chairs: Two-position lift chairs are the most basic type. As the name suggests, they have two recline angles: 45 degrees and the standard 90 degrees.
- Three-position lift chairs: Akin to the two-position lift chairs, three-position chairs can recline to a 45- and a 90-degree angle, but they can also recline to an almost flat position.
- Infinite lift chairs: These are the most expensive and flexible lift chairs. In addition to being able to recline to a 45- and a 90-degree angle, infinite lift chairs can recline to a completely flat position and every angle in-between.
Orthopedic seat cushions
While orthopedic seat cushions provide a substantial amount of comfort, they also supply optimal support for your back and tailbone. Orthopedic seat cushions are specifically designed to take the pressure off of your tailbone and help you maintain good posture while in a seated position. The benefits of having an orthopedic seat cushion include:
- Reduces neck and back pain
- Relieves pressure on the sciatic nerve
- Alleviates pressure on areas afflicted with hemorrhoids
- Prevents painful pressure sores
As we get older, we want to help our bodies as much as we can to maintain good mobility, good overall fitness, and an independent lifestyle. Adding orthopedic cushions to your furniture is a great way to do that. Plus, they’re versatile devices that can also be used in your car. There are several types of orthopedic seat cushions. They include:
- Foam seat cushions: They’re made out of basic foam, and they’re the least expensive option.
- Memory foam seat cushions: Memory foam seat cushions are the most popular option and they adapt to your body temperature. They’re also a bit on the pricey side.
- Gel seat cushions: These cushions are made from a gel pack and they’re the most expensive option. They evenly distribute your body weight, and they’re ideal for people with circulation problems.
- Coccycx seat cushions: Coccycx seat cushions have a U-shape design and they’re the most common type of orthopedic seat cushion. They’re designed to alleviate pressure on your tailbone, pelvis, and spine.
- Lumbar seat cushions: Lumbar seat cushions are placed between your back and the chair, and they provide extra support for your back. They’re best used in conjunction with coccyx seat cushions.
Standing aids are designed to make getting up and walking around easier. Because there are so many kinds of standing aids available, you have countless ways to incorporate them into the layout of your home. Two of the most common standing aids include grab bars and a couch standing frame. Grab bars can be installed along the walls to be used as added support for your body weight. They’re also a great safety net to have in case you’re falling, and you need to catch yourself, or if you trip over something. Couch standing aids are used to help you get up and down on the couch. They can be attached to your couch, and you use them to support your weight as you stand up and sit down, taking the strain off your hips, knees, and legs. Other standing aids may include walkers, canes, crutches, etc.
Furniture risers are designed to increase the height of couches and chairs that sit too low to the ground. They’re typically made out of wood or heavy-duty plastic and they’re meant to make sitting down and standing up easier. Adding risers to your furniture can:
- Reduce the amount of effort it takes to sit down and stand up. This helps you conserve energy and eliminate stress on your joints.
- Increase your independence
- Be used on sofas, chairs, dining room tables, desks, and beds.
- Be an inexpensive way to modify your furniture
Lighting to Improve Safety & Accessibility
As we age, our eyes require better lighting to properly see what’s around us. Having poor lighting can increase your risk of falls and make it hard to confidently and safely navigate your home. If you have a mobility disability, installing smart lights, or the clapper, will make it easy to turn the lights on and off, and it will cut out the need to get up every time you want to change the light. Smart lights can include motion sensor lights that cut on/off whenever you leave and enter a room or automatic night lights that run on a timer. You should choose the type of smart lights you want based on your mobility and needs. This guide will walk you through the helpful tips on how to choose the perfect smart lights for your home.
Heating to Improve Safety & Accessibility
Smart thermostats regulate your homes’ temperature without you having to get up and change it yourself. They can be hooked up to your mobile device and controlled remotely with the touch of a button. Smart thermostats can also be set on a timer that changes the temperature without you having to do a single thing. You can also set the thermostat up to turn off the heat/a.c. when you’re not at the house and turn back on when you are. You can do all of this from the comfort of your bed, which is especially great if you have moderate to severe mobility problems.
Home Security to Improve Safety & Accessibility
Home security system
Home security systems should be easy to install and easy to use. They serve as a safeguard for your house, and they immediately alert the authorities if there’s a break-in or disturbance. Home security systems can also be used as a way to contact an emergency team if you fall and seriously injure yourself. Being able to have remote control over your home security system gives you the ability to monitor activity in your house and access security controls from anywhere in your house.
Smart doorbells allow you to see who’s at the door from your connected device without you having to get up and go to the door. They also allow you to communicate with visitors to let them if you’re available to come to the door. Most smart doorbells come with a vibration setting for people who are hearing-impaired. You can also record audio and visuals in case of any suspicious activity.