As the older US population continues to grow, many individuals prefer to maintain their independence by aging in place gracefully in their homes. Yet faced with new mobility constraints, a lifelong home can suddenly become full of safety hazards.
Here’s the good news: there are plenty of steps you can take to make your home accessible and safe for yourself or a loved one. These adjustments don’t require expensive or lengthy home renovations, and can make a huge difference in overall quality of life.
Without clear lighting, it can be easy to trip over furniture or stumble in the dark. Make sure your home has strong overhead lights that illuminate each potential obstacle in your home. Even at night, plug in nightlights and place lighting tracks along dark stairways.
Don’t forget about your floors! Check that all carpets are securely attached to floors and short enough for smooth wheelchair navigation. Install slip-resistant flooring and grip mats in bathrooms and kitchens and make sure all flooring is at a uniform level.
Have a gravel driveway or muddy, cobblestone path outside? It may be time for smooth cement or asphalt landscaping.
The more organized your home is, the less risk of trips, falls, and other injuries. Take time to clean up the clutter: install shelving units, clear hallways, and keep needless items off of the floor. This makes it easier for loved ones with wheelchairs, canes, or walkers to move through your home.
Grab bars are a low-cost home addition that can make all the difference. Most commonly, homeowners install these bars for greater independence using the toilet and bath/shower. But the functionality doesn’t have to stop there: place grab bars along long wallways, beneath kitchen countertops, or beside doorways to offer a helping hand wherever you or a loved one needs it.
Stairlifts and Ramps
Stairs are an especially common mobility obstacle. One-third of healthy adults age 65+ experience at least one fall per year, with many being linked to trouble ascending or descending steps. Stairlifts and vertical platform lifts can gently transfer users between floors without risk of injury or expensive home renovations. No matter if your stairs are indoor or outdoor, spiral or straight, there is a lift solution for your home.
If an area of your home has only a few steps, consider an accessible ramp instead.
Transferring between positions can be especially challenging for those who are mobility-impaired. Invest in a lift chair or hi-low bed to encourage independent, safe transfers between seated/laying and standing positions.
Don’t forget the details
It’s all about the small details– Spend time brainstorming accessibility obstacles that you or a loved one may struggle with throughout everyday life. Consider replacing round doorknobs with ADA-compliant handles, substitute swinging closet doors for space-saving sliding ones, or even implement voice-activated commands for lights and other appliances.
While these are general suggestions to improve the accessibility of your home, you may want to consider additional modifications specific to your unique mobility needs. For instance, if you or a loved one typically spends the day in a wheelchair, make sure all lighting and thermostat controls are within reach from a seated position.
These days, getting older or developing a disability shouldn’t mean having to leave your home. By taking steps to make your home more accessible, you can keep up a safe and independent lifestyle in your home for years to come!
Have additional questions about maximizing your home for mobility? Contact our team of product experts anytime and we’d be happy to help.