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Create a Safe Environment for Loved Ones Aging in Place

Posted June 17, 2013
 
One of the primary factors in improving the quality of life for a loved one who is aging in place or living with a disability is creating a safe environment in their home which allows them independent mobility. Seniors who prefer to remain in their homes want to remain as independent as possible, for as long as they can, so it is important to learn as much information as possible about safely aging in place. The majority of homes have been built to be suited for those who are healthy, young and mobile, but with a few mobility devices and slight alterations, you can create a safe, comfortable environment.
 
Safety in the Bathroom
 
The bathroom can be a major challenge for many people who have chosen to age in place. It is common for seniors to suffer with joint problems, arthritis and other problems that create limited mobility, so getting into the shower or tub can become difficult. A great solution is to replace the tub with a walk-in shower and when possible it should be large enough for a caregiver to assist the senior resident with bathing, when necessary. Grab bars should also be installed to help with stability and to prevent falling. A senior’s skin is also more sensitive to heat so a water temperature regulator should be installed to prevent burning.
 
Equipment for Comfort
 
Many elderly people who choose to age in place suffer with arthritis and other problems that prevent them from getting up, lying down or sitting up in a comfortable position. An adjustable bed allows them to easily get in and out of bed as well as adjust the positioning for a better sleep. Seniors also often suffer with weakened muscles which make it difficult to move about and get in and out of seating without causing pain. A lift chair is made to look like a standard recliner, but allows the individual to change position of the seat to allow for easier standing. An adjustable bed and a lift chair are excellent for the elderly or disabled who suffer with knee and hip problems, muscle weakness and joint problems, yet want the freedom to get up and move around without assistance. This type of equipment also makes it easier on the caregiver who would typically have to lift a patient to a standing position.
 
Safety Measures
 
There are several safety factors that should be addressed in the home of an elderly person who has opted for aging in place . The lighting in the home is very important to prevent falling as well as providing a comfort level. Consider installing rocking switches, which are designed to be used by people with problems such as arthritis. Make sure all lamps have an easy to access switch to prevent reaching and consider using LCD bulbs that do not burn out as quickly as a standard light bulb. Flooring is also an issue in the home of an elderly person. Make sure there are no throw rugs or loose flooring that may cause the person to trip and fall. All of the flooring should be easy to walk on, especially if a walker is used and smooth if a wheelchair is used, so it will be easy to roll across.
 
If you are elderly and have decided to stay in your home, it is important to have a caregiver, family member or friend walk through the entire home to assess the safety features you will need. If you are making the adjustments on a loved one’s home who has chosen to age in place, it is important to point out all changes that have been made and ensure your loved one that their home will be a safe, comfortable environment.
 
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Some of the great lift chair manufacturers featured on Lift Chairs 101.
  • Pride Mobility
  • Golden Technologies
  • Med-Lift
  • Winco
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