Home modification is a fairly new concept that has come along with the incarnation of seniors choosing to stay living in their homes in place of moving to assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Due to limitations that naturally occur as we age changes need to be made in order for needs to be met and safety kept at a premium. Home modifications can range from replacing the knobs on cabinets to bathroom remodels that include barrier free entry tubs. Seniors need home modifications in order to age in place. They promote keeping independence in senior citizens' lives while keeping them safe. It is important to recognize that eighty-five percent of elderly people wish to stay in their homes and are doing so. Out of those eighty-five percent only a small percentage are equipped with accommodations that will allow them maximum safety.
Homes without age in place modifications become harder to maintain and live in for seniors. It is proven that a home that is perfectly safe and allows for independent living at sixty-five does not necessarily accommodate the needs of a seventy year old. It has been proven that simple modifications done to the home can eliminate up to fifty percent of the accidents that occur to seniors aging in place.
The most common accident to occur within the home to seniors is a fall. There are many home modifications that can be done to prevent accidental falls. Many age in place specialists will come into the home and do a free home analysis of problem areas. With this information homeowners can budget to make arrangements to accommodate their needs as they begin the aging process. If their goal is to age in their homes and wish to live as independently as possible starting out early in making simple changes will ease both the financial and emotional burdens that can occur.
Below is an example of an inspection of the kitchen and bathroom space within a home. With this general look it is easy to see how home modifications are necessary to safely age in place.
- It is important to make cabinet knobs easy to pull open. As people age they often begin to lose the strength and ability to work door knobs that have to be turned or that are hard to pull open.
- Stove controls must all be marked with bold lettering and easy to use. It is important that there are lights that are on the stove that signal when it is on and the stove top is hot. This is important to prevent the stove from being left on or a hand placed on the stove while it is still on.
- Faucets should be levered instead of turn knobs. This will ease turning them on and off.
- Grab bars should be put in place in spaces such as tub and toilet areas. It is also important to evaluate the area around the toilet and the toilet itself. Seniors begin to have a harder time lowering and raising themselves. This issue can be resolved with grab bars and high rise toilet aids.
- Ovens are also another area of concern. They are often heavy and hard to open. This is something to look into. A convection oven can be purchased to help with this issue.
- A place to sit while working in the kitchen becomes necessary. The aging process has a strange effect on joints and the ability to stand for long periods of time. Cutting celery and dicing carrots is made simpler with a seated work area. The risk of falling or slipping while using a knife decreases significantly.
- The tub and shower is a large area of concern. A barrier free shower entrance is an incredibly nice feature to have installed. Bathroom remodels are a common renovation for homeowners. A bit of forwarding thinking can save a lot of money later on.
- Water temperatures should be regulated to prevent burning. This is something that is simple and does not require any renovations.
- Items that are used on a regular basis such as shampoo and dish soap should be within reaching distance. Over reaching can lead to falls. It is important that everyday use items are well within reach.
Home modifications can improve the lives of those aging in place. Safety is of course the main concern; however, a skilled age in place contractor can blend safety and aesthetics while putting in place home modifications.
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