The physical problems the elderly encounter around the house are often caused by the design of the house itself or by items purchased for it. Most of these problems could be avoided with proper planning.
With people 50 and older now making up more than a third of the U.S. population, a percentage expected to grow, these ideas couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.
Here are a few of the ideas for improving you homes safety for the elderly:
— Use contrasting colors to make it easier for elderly persons with failing sight to differentiate among things. For example, use light-colored furniture on dark flooring, light-colored dishes against dark placemats, or vice versa.
— Choose a dense, level-loop carpet that is adhered directly to the floor without a pad underneath, to make walking easier.
— Do not use throw or area rugs.
— In buying furniture, consider how difficult it might be for some elderly persons to stand up after sitting. Chairs should have supportive backs and strong arms. They should be of sufficient height so the person does not feel he or she is trying to get out of a deep hole.
— Use lever handles instead of round doorknobs. People with arthritis often find it difficult to turn a knob.
— In the kitchen, install overhead cabinets 15 inches above the counter to bring them within easy reach.
— In a stairway, place handrails on each side. Also, make sure they curve in toward the wall after the last step. Along with the rails providing support, the curve will let a person with limited eyesight know the end step has been reached.
— If possible, put textured tape on the edge of each stair tread. This provides better traction and aids in sighting the stair edge.
— In the bathroom, where many accidents happen, install non-slip rubber flooring. This will help prevent falls on wet surfaces and provide more cushion if a fall does occur.
— Install grab bars on the walls of the shower or bath and a non-slip surface on the tub or shower stall floor.
— If your tub or shower doesn’t have a bench seat, install one. If you can’t put in a permanent one, the Hartford report says a portable one with a back and rubber feet can be used.
— Counter height in the bath should be at least 36 inches to prevent excessive bending.
— Under the sink, install an adapter that automatically mixes hot and cold water to a desired temperature. This can be done for the shower also, to prevent accidental scalding.