Safe House: Seniors Can Make Easy Accessibility Modifications

Safe House: Seniors Can Make Easy Accessibility Modifications


by Claire Wentz

Even though many retirement communities promise an Eden-like paradise to spend your golden years, nearly 90 percent of seniors prefer to age in place at their own home. Saving money, living near loved ones and being in familiar surroundings are among the most popular reasons for this preference. However, if you’re not going to be living in an environment where there’s an elevator and someone to prepare your meals, it’s important that accessibility modifications are made to ensure your safety and comfort.

Top Modifications To Consider

 Home Access: If there are stairs leading up to your front door, your best option is to install a ramp. Since pre-made versions can be expensive, consider going the DIY route — it’s easier than you think to make a safe, yet, cost-effective version, though you can always hire a contractor, too. It can be costly to widen doorways, so opt for adjustable hinges that can be installed yourself in a matter of minutes.

Slips And Falls: Every 11 seconds an older adult aged 65-plus is treated in the emergency room for a fall. As a source of prevention, remove all throw rugs and slippery surfaces and replace with slip-resistant flooring. In the bathroom, place non-skid decals in the tub and shower floor.

Door Knob Issues: Door knobs and faucets can be difficult to manipulate — they can also cause pain if you have sore wrists due to the turning motion. Replacing them with lever-style versions can prevent anxiety, frustration and discomfort.

Difficulty Entering And Exiting The Shower: Bathroom modifications can be costly, yet they’re absolutely necessary for safety. Installing grab bars, a shower chair and and a transfer bench if you have a shower that’s in a deep tub. Some seniors opt to replace this style with a walk-in shower, but that’s definitely a more cost-effective approach even if it is more desirable. While you’re in the bathroom, install safety bars near the toilet, too — a raised seat can make it easier to use as well. If dementia is of concern, consider setting the water temperature to 110 degrees Farenheit (no more than 120) to avoid scalding.

Problems Climbing Stairs: Along with installing sturdy handrails on each side of the stairs, a mechanical stair lift is worth the investment (an average cost of $4,364) for the peace of mind it can provide.

Height Concerns: If you’re in a wheelchair, you’ll find that the countertop height in the kitchen is no longer functional, so it will need to be lowered. This also applies to the sink, stove, microwave, and any cabinetry that’s not longer accessible. This is definitely not a DIY job, so you’re going to have to budget for it.

Financial Assistance

It’s important to keep in mind that accessibility modifications and any medical-related equipment and supplies may not be covered by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. However, there are some programs and private organizations that may be of assistance.

Even though it can be difficult to part with the home you’ve been living in for a long period of time, in some cases, it can make more sense to look for a smaller abode that fits a downsized lifestyle — perhaps one that requires less modifications so it’s easier to live in and maintain. This can be a more cost-effective choice than an assisted living facility or retirement community. Not to mention, you’ll have more money in the bank to put toward costs including hiring someone to handle the landscaping, a cleaning service and any applicable accessibility changes. Start by checking out the listings in your area to get an idea of what homes are going for.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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