Tips for Making a Home Accessible to a Senior with Limited Mobility
Living with limited mobility can be a challenge for many seniors, even when it comes to simple tasks around the house. However, by incorporating some useful modifications, seniors can enjoy the comfort of their home with less need for relying on outside assistance. Here are a few tips to help keep seniors as safe and mobile as possible in their homes. If you are a senior living with limited mobility, or if you know someone who is, review these tips and talk to a home improvement professional or senior care provider for more information.
1. Install a ramp at home entrances.
Stairs are one of the most common structures that can cause a senior to fall. To prevent the risk of a fall and potentially serious injury, look into the installation of a wheelchair ramp for each of the home’s entrances. Even if a senior is not confined to a wheelchair, a ramp can be much safer and easier to ascend on foot.
Installing an accessible ramp is a fairly low cost improvement that can provide peace of mind for seniors and their loved ones. According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost to install a ramp is around $959. Keep in mind that when it comes to home safety, quality of materials and craftmanship is key. Do not be tempted to cut corners on ramp construction in order to save money. Be sure to hire professional installers or contractors with a good track record of solid work.
2. Install a chair lift for interior staircases.
While an accessible ramp can prevent falls when going in and out of the home, indoor stairs can be just as dangerous to a senior living with limited mobility. Stairlifts can be installed along interior staircases to assist senior homeowners with going from one level of the home to another without them having to worry about slips, trips or falls.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, there are two basic types of chair lifts for stairs: straight and curved. The type needed will depend on the design of the staircase. Straight lifts that travel in a straight line typically run between $3,000 and $5,000. Curved lifts are a bit more complicated to install and therefore will likely cost more, generally running between $10,000 and $15,000, according to the Huffington Post.
To save on the cost of installing a chair lift, you can consider renting one (if the need is only temporary), or you can look into purchasing a used/refurbished one. Just make sure you are purchasing/renting from a reputable company and don’t be afraid to ask for references from other satisfied customers.
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3. Install bath modifications.
Slips and falls in the bathroom are frequently reported by seniors. After all, climbing in and out of a tub can be treacherous for anyone if there is water pooled on the bottom of the tub or on the bathroom floor. Getting rid of the existing bath setup and replacing it with a shower without a barrier can eliminate the need for seniors to step over the edge of the bath tub. While you’re at it, installing a height-adjustable shower head or detachable shower head can also help make it easier for seniors with limited mobility to bathe safely. Depending on how far you want to go in your bath remodel, you can even install a bench or small seat in the shower area so that the senior does not have to stand. A cheaper alternative is to purchase a removable shower seat like this one.
Another low cost safety measure would be to add non-slip appliques to the shower floor. You can buy these in just about any home improvement store for less than $10. Or you can find some online, like these from Amazon, that are only about $7.
4. Reorganize the home to make storing easy.
Reorganize the home to make reaching items easier for seniors. Hang things lower on the wall, place often-used cookware on the bottom shelves, and make it so that emergency items (like fire extinguishers, flash lights, batteries, first aid kits) are in places that are easily accessible. Keeping things organized in this manner can greatly improve a senior’s day-to-day life as well as prevent injuries.
5. Take advantage of senior care services offered in your area.
Living independently is usually a big concern for seniors. But there are some instances where relying on some outside help makes a lot of sense. Even active seniors may benefit from hiring someone to help out with housework or hiring an errand service to pick up prescriptions or do some light shopping. There are many nonprofit organizations that offer these services to seniors at little to no cost. If the senior belongs to a church, the congregation may even have a volunteer service set up to deliver meals or even just provide some company once in a while. The best way to explore the senior services in your area is to contact your local county or city government.
Other senior resources:
AARP offers a wealth of useful information for senior citizens. Even if you aren’t a member, you can browse the site for informative articles and helpful resources.
Visit this link to USA.gov to explore more resources for seniors, including consumer protection, caregiver resources, housing topics and more.
This article from Agingcare.com has a handy list of free/reduced cost services available to seniors and their caregivers.