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For Boomers & Their Aging Parents

Low Cost Modifications for Aging in Place

   We know that people are reluctant to face their own aging limitations.  We also know that very often seniors are not willing to spend money to improve their own comfort in their homes.  Taken together it’s quite a challenge to get an aging senior to make needed changes for safety and convenience.   

   Many who plan on aging in place are simply not interested in remodeling their homes no matter how much more comfortable they’d be.  They would rather live with a barrier, or put together some temporary “fix”, than pay to solve the problem.  I’ve lost count as to how many bathrooms I’ve walked into where a standard folding chair is balanced half in and half out of the bathtub, its purpose to aid someone no longer able to step into the tub to take a shower.  Needless to say, a precariously balanced metal folding chair is not an appropriate (or safe) solution.   

   So if we’re to convince these seniors to make some changes for their own good, we need to start small, with modifications that can be accomplished quickly, without major disruption, and relatively inexpensively.  

   Let’s start with the bathroom since it’s the place in the home where most falls occur.

 1.  Add a seat to the shower or tub
 2.  Replace a stationary shower head with a hand held one
 3.  Create non-slip tiles throughout bathroom and shower/tub by applying non-skid 
    coatings readily available in tile stores
 4.  Install higher watt bulbs in fixtures to improve vision
 5.  Add grab bars to shower, tub, and toilet areas; colored grab bars are available if 
    needed to increase visibility
 6.  Remove scatter rugs 
 7.  Remove glass shower doors and replace with screw mount shower rod and shower 
 8.  Replace door knob and faucet knobs with levered handles 
 9.  Replace door hinges with swing away hinges to increase doorway width
10.  Replace standard toilet with comfort height one making it easier to rise without loss of

    Next is the kitchen where the goal is to eliminate stretching and bending as much as possible.

 1. Lower upper cabinet shelves where possible. Place dishes and often used items on an 
    easily reachable shelf
 2. Replace cabinet doorknobs with latches that open to the touch
 3. Increase lighting above the sink, stove and work areas
 4. Make sure there is a heat resistant surface adjacent to stove, oven and microwave to 
     place hot pots and dishes 
 5. Adjust refrigerator shelves so the lighter foods are placed on top, heavier ones at 
     waist level
 6.  Install single lever faucet at kitchen sink
 7 . Coat ceramic floor tiles with non-skid coatings
 8.  Remove or tape down throw rugs 
 9.  Place microwave on counter for easy access 
 10. Install pull out drawers and pop up shelves in bottom cabinets for heavier appliances, 
      eg. mixer 
 11. Make sure all appliances are working properly and controls are easy to read and/or 
 12. Store food in closed plastic containers for ease of selecting and carrying

     Other areas of the house. 

 1.  Install low profile thresholds or “ramps” wherever threshold exceeds ½”
 2. Install railings at any step, on both sides of stairs,  and along hallways
 3. Increase stair lighting 
 4. Install non-skid stair treads, especially to exterior stairs 

   What I’ve found with my own clients is that getting someone to accept the need to modify their home is a process that moves from denial, to reluctant acceptance, to reliance on the improvement.  Once we’re able to convince a senior that the modification is necessary, they ultimately come to realize how it benefits their life.  It’s a struggle, but it’s worth it.    

  Susan Luxenberg
  HomeSmart LLC

4 Comments to Low Cost Modifications for Aging in Place:

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copywriting on Sunday, October 28, 2012 8:34 AM
Very good tips for elderly, especially the changes that needs to be done in the bathroom, a place with more often falls unfortuantely.
Reply to comment
Susan on Monday, October 29, 2012 11:58 AM
Thank you and you are absolutely correct - the bathroom is the most treacherous place for us all but especially for seniors. Here are some facts: 1) 1/3 of the population over the age of 65 falls each year and the risk of falls increases proportionately with age. Half of seniors over the age of 80 fall annually. 2) Those who fall are two to three times more likely to fall again. 3) About half (53%) of the older adults who are discharged for fall-related hip fractures will experience another fall within six months. 4)Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly 87% of all fractures in the elderly are due to falls. 5) 55% of all falls take place inside the home. This last statistic is, in a sense good news, because at least our home environments are something we can control. Modifications for safety are relatively inexpensive and to avoid them because of denial is foolish.

Jimmy Smotherman on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 4:11 AM
A Glass shower door costs a little more but looks nice. But if anyone looks for any better alternate then he may go for your suggested option indeed as it's economical and may be a better choice for many people.
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mediaplexrd on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 5:04 PM
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