More and more, older adults express a desire to age in their home instead of in a senior living community. One of the keys to a successful aging in place strategy is to make sure your environment is safe and easy to navigate.
As part of our service at CarePods, we continuously evaluate and make recommendations for our clients on ways they can modify their home. In this blog post, we’ll share with you 3 easy (and inexpensive) modifications that will make you or your loved one’s home more suitable for aging in place.
Step One: Brighten Up Your Environment
One of the first things we recommend for our clients is that they evaluate the lighting in their home. As we age, our vision tends to worsen. And many seniors report preventable falls and stumbles as a result of poor or low visibility environments. By improving both the artificial and natural lighting in a home, older adults reduce their chances for a fall. Natural light in particular can also boost our mood and general well-being.
To improve the lighting in your home, you can take the following steps:
- Replace your existing lightbulbs with higher wattage and/or brighter bulbs.
- Add more lamps or other lighting sources to frequently used rooms.
- Consider removing heavy curtains or using translucent curtains to allow as much natural light in as possible.
- Add several nightlights activated by voice or movement so you have a well-lit path to the bathroom.
- In the winter when the days are shorter, consider adding a specialty lamp that mimics sunlight. This improves mood and can lessen the effects of seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.).
Step Two: Plan for Mail and Groceries
Every day, most of us check our mailbox and at least weekly, bring in groceries. These two high-touch areas always benefit from small improvements to make them ergonomically more appropriate for aging adults.
Below you can find our favorite and most inexpensive tips for both these areas:
- Place a small side table outside your door with a note that requests packages be left on the table. That prevents bending over and lifting which can lead to falls!
- Relocate your mailbox to your front door. This is particularly helpful if you live in an area prone to deep snow and ice during the winter.
- Buy a wheelable grocery cart and consider installing a small ramp from the garage into the kitchen. This way, you can easily load your groceries from the car into your home without making multiple trips.
- Add shelving to lower-level cabinets in your kitchen so you can stock everyday items within easy reach. That will help encourage you to cook and to also eat healthier in the mornings.
Step Three: Consider Your Pets
Loving and caring for a pet is one of the most rewarding things in life. As we age, our pets provide us with vital companionship and improve our daily lives in so many ways. Unfortunately, seniors are often encouraged to get rid of a much beloved pet because they may be underfoot and cause a fall. Or, because older adults sometimes find it difficult to take care of a pet.
At CarePods, we think this is a huge mistake. Pets encourage us to get outside and bring purpose and structure to our day. They provide older adults who may be lonely or living alone with needed companionship and affection. But, we do recommend a few modifications to your pet’s living environment to address safety concerns related to falling.
To help make your home safer for pets, we recommend the following:
- Create a pet room or designated area where you feed, place litter boxes (if you have cats) and have a crate or bed for them to rest when you are away.
- If possible, research and buy automatic feeders, waters and litter boxes. Once set-up, these devices are easy to use and require minimal everyday support.
- If not using automatic devices, buy tall, plastic containers to store litter and/or food so they are within easy reach. Consider using old plastic bottles marked as “pet” to store water in the refrigerator so you can carry the bottle to refill the pet’s water bowl instead of refilling and carrying a full bowl back to their area.
- Install easy open/close pet gates to close off your designated pet area. Use this area to contain your pets when guests visit or when you need to get in and out of the house without them underfoot.
And, this is not a home fix, but we highly recommend investing in basic command and walk training for dogs so you can enjoy your pet fully without worrying about a fall.
We hope you’ve found this blog post helpful. As you can see, a little bit of planning and ingenuity go a long way towards helping you or your loved one with aging in place successfully. If you have questions or need a second set of hands to set you up in your home, call on us. We work hard to help you stay in your home for as long as possible.