By 2030 the Baby Boomer generation, numbering a staggering 61 million strong, will be aged 66 to 84; additionally, those born prior to 1946 (also referred to as the “Silent Generation”) will account for another 9 million people by 2030.
This dramatic increase in the size of America’s senior citizen population presents a number of unique challenges. This is especially true for those with loved ones who struggle with decreased mobility, yet are still determined to “age in place” in their own home. The trend of America’s seniors wanting to stay in their homes well into old age, as opposed to moving to a long-term care facility, is one that has become increasingly popular in recent years. The problem is that most housing in the U.S. is not designed to accommodate the various cognitive and physical challenges that come with aging.
What can I do to improve safety for a loved one that has decided to age in place?
Narrow hallways, steep staircases and traditional bathrooms can all be dangerous, even potentially deadly, for those struggling with mobility issues. Fortunately, there are a number of surprisingly simple (and affordable) modifications/improvements that can be made to any home to help aging residents with physical or cognitive challenges live safely and comfortably in their own homes.
Here are some great home modifications that can allow you to remain in your own home for years to come:
Invest in “Smart-Home” Products
Technology has been a real game-changer for aging Americans that wish to remain independent and stay connected with friends and family. Voice-controlled personal assistants such as Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home Hub and Apple’s HomePod allow user to turn lights on and off, adjust the thermostat and even control any connected-home systems like sprinklers, locks and windows, all at the touch of a button. There are also advanced motion-detecting sensors that can be installed to keep a virtual eye on you and your home, improving security, energy-efficiency and comfort. The sensors can even compile the data collected and report back to a caretaker or loved one about your daily routine.
Make Your Home Fall-Proof
According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every 15 seconds a senior citizen is sent to the E.R. for a fall-related injury. Fortunately, there are a number of modifications that can be made to improve both the safety and comfort of your home. Installing handrails, stair lifts or vertical platform lifts can greatly reduce your risk of suffering a nasty tumble down the stairs, while simultaneously drastically improving your quality of life.
Another great way to reduce your risk of suffering a fall is to eliminate any thresholds that are not level. Many homes have a front entryway that features a somewhat dramatic threshold separating the home’s exterior from its interior; eliminating this raised threshold and making it completely level will make transitioning between the exterior and interior of your home easier and reduce your risk of suffering a potentially devastating fall.
Make Your Bathroom More Accessible
Replacing your tub with a curb-less, walk-in shower, or even a walk-in tub, eliminates the need to step over the tub’s threshold when entering or exiting and can greatly reduce your risk of suffering a potentially life-changing slip and fall. Installing grab bars both in and around the shower, as well as by the toilet, will provide much-needed stability and support. Additionally, the addition of a raised toilet-seat (in conjunction with grab bars) can aid in the oftentimes difficult task of rising and sitting.
Simply put, for many older Americans, there’s no place like home; and with a few modifications you can make your home a safe, comfortable place for you to maintain your independence and age in place…with dignity and grace.
At Bell House Medical, our goal is to help you remain in your own home, functioning as safely and independently as possible. We have been proudly serving the Delmarva community since 1986 and would like to encourage you to stop by our medical supply store in Lewes, Delaware or contact us if you have questions about any of the information discussed above.
Bell House Medical
16719 Coastal Highway
Lewes, DE 19958