4 Home Modifications to Keep Mom and Dad Safe

May 30, 2016
Stephen Bleeker

According to a 2011 study, 95 percent of seniors in Canada hope to stay in their homes as they age rather than moving to a retirement community, assisted living facility or long term care facility.

This concept is known as “aging in place.” Aging in place is the aspiration to continue to live comfortably and independently in one’s home and community for many years to come.

In order to age in place with safety and comfort, it is important to assure that basic needs are met and supported on an on-going basis. From health to transportation, finances to household maintenance, every aspect should be considered.

As your parents age and mobility limitations become more of a factor, the current layout of the home may be an increasing impediment to remaining in the home versus moving to a senior facility. Home modifications can restore safety and access as your parents age, ensuring they can live comfortably at home for years to come. Let’s explore four home modifications to help your parents achieve the dream of aging in place:

Bathroom Mobility Modifications

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, about 50 percent of all senior falls leading to hospitalization occur in the home. According to the National Institute on Aging (US source), 80% of household falls occur in the bathroom. This prevalence is understandable, since bathroom surfaces are typically wet and slippery. Combined with decreasing balance, stability, and reflexes as we age, bathroom falls are sadly all too common. Bathroom modifications such as installing grab bars, safety rails, and non-slip flooring can reduce the likelihood of a slip and fall accident. Additional modifications such as a raised toilet seat, bath/shower seat, handheld shower hose, and hand-free faucet can improve access and safety.

Staircase Modifications

Staircases are considered the second-most hazardous location in the home. In addition to the risk of slips and falls, they can represent a barrier if your aging parents need use of a walker or wheelchair. Simple, cost-efficient improvements like adding glow-in-the-dark grip tape to stair risers can improve safety, while installing an exterior or interior chair lift can restore access.

Kitchen Modifications

The kitchen is the most important room to keep safe. With the risk of cuts, burns, and accidental fires, safety must be a top priority. Modifications such as improved lighting, lowered countertops, stove-front knobs, tap faucets, and non-slip flooring will all help improve accessibility.

Improved Lighting

Poor lighting conditions are often associated with falls in the home. Poor lighting will increase the risk of a fall in a situation where there are frequent late night bathroom visits. If your parent has declining vision, poor lighting will only amplify this condition. Update lighting wherever possible, including on the outside of the home. Invest in night lights or motion-sensing lights that activate as needed.

Home modifications can help your aging parents remain safe, comfortable, and independent in their homes for years to come. Our senior in-home care services can assist in making these evaluations in the home in addition to our regular services including including companionship, housekeeping, meal preparation, and personal care which can also support the goal of aging in place.

–       Stephen Bleeker