With everybody spending more time at home, it is important more than ever that modifications be made to keep the elderly and disabled safe while alone.
Not wanting to risk exposing the elderly and disabled (which includes your chronically ill friends and family) to COVID is commendable, but now that we see that this is not going to end anytime soon, have you considered how safe they actually are?
For example, are they able to enter and exit their homes easily, or is falling a factor that needs to be addressed?
What about while in their homes? Do they have the tools to help them avoid injuries?
Did you know that one in four adults over the age of 65 reports falling each year? Or that falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among seniors?
Pandemic or not, the following home modifications for the elderly and disabled should be considered to help them maintain their independence for as long as possible. They are perfect for homeowners as well as renters as no permanent construction is needed and they can easily be removed when needed.
Home Modifications to Help the Elderly and Disabled Enter and Exit with Ease
The last thing you want is for your elderly and disabled loved ones to fall. Most people only worry about falling down staircases when in reality, one step or thick threshold is all it takes to trip and fall.
There are times with my chronic illnesses when I am not able to step as high as normal or unknowingly drag one leg. This makes stepping over and upwards both dangerous and difficult.
Thankfully there are many inexpensive and temporary ways to address this problem.
Home Modification #1
Start by assessing the walkways to their front door as well as the back door and yard/patio. Are there steps or is the pavement uneven? If so, modifying the walkway with a ramp and railing is the perfect solution.
Home Modification #2
Living Room Safety Options
Many people of a certain age, with a disability, or that are chronically ill struggle with getting off of a sofa or comfy chair. This could lead to longer periods of inactivity which could create more problems such as hip pain or an accident from not making to the bathroom in time. This next modification will help them get up whenever they want.
Home Modification #3
There are several options that will make getting up and off of their chair or sofa easier and less painful. One costs more than the others, but depending upon their abilities, the price may be worth your peace of mind.
The first is a power lift chair. They look like and perform like a typical recliner with the bonus of rising to help the person stand.
A second option is a manual lifting cushion. This portable cushion can be used on different chairs throughout their home or when it is safe, while visiting others.
Last but not least are sofa standing assistance grips. Some have bars that fit under cushions, while others slide underneath the furniture.
While not a home modification, an aid to help your loved one reach for items that are out of reach or that they have dropped can prevent many injuries such as falls, being hit on the head by falling objects, and hitting their own head on tables or counters when they bend down. Believe it or not, but a puppy pooper scooper is great for scooping up fragile items like cellphones!
How to Make the Bedroom a Safer Place
Kids aren’t the only ones who fall out of bed! I too have slipped off the bed or missed the mattress when thinking I was bracing myself while dealing with vertigo or severe fatigue. Besides falling, sitting up from a sleeping position can be difficult and cause dizziness. Having something to assist can prevent falls and help the elderly and disabled get acclimated to being upright before standing up.
Home Modification #4
While a bit pricey, an adjustable bed will not only help them sit up but can also improve how well they sleep.
A less expensive option is a bed rail. They fit on the side of the bed and have bars that go under the mattress. Some have pockets to keep things like your TV remote or book close by.
Bathroom Safety Must-Haves
Bathroom falls come in second after staircases! The following home modifications are not permanent and can be easily removed when selling or moving.
Home Modification #5
Adjustable toilet rails can make going to the bathroom safer by helping the person sit, stand, and catch their balance.
Although not a tool that one would consider for preventing a fall, a bidet (which can be installed on their existing toilet), will help keep them cleaner, as well as prevent muscle strains or spasms from reaching behind to wipe.
My Favorite At-Home Safety Tool
I cannot tell you how many times I have injured myself while rushing to answer the door. My chronic illnesses slow me down at times and if not expecting a visitor, my response time can be significantly delayed.
To someone who is testing how easy it would be to rob a home, this delay may give them the idea that the person who lives there could not defend themselves. If they fail to answer at all the criminal may assume the home is vacant.
Which brings me to my favorite home modification!
Home Modification #6
A doorbell camera is a must-have nowadays! Crime is up, too many people are out of work, and the holidays are upon us. With a doorbell camera, your loved one can see who is at the door as to not open their home to someone they do not know. They can also speak to them without putting themselves in danger by opening the door. All this can be done from wherever they are in the home. No more rushing from the bedroom or struggling to quickly get out of their recliner.
Our loved ones won’t be safe at home if their homes aren’t safe to be in. Which home modification could you or your elderly or disabled loved one benefit from?