Monday, October 29, 2007

Making Your Home Accessible for Aging Needs

Senior citizens fear moving into a nursing home and losing their independence more than death, according to a research study released this week. "Aging in Place in America,” commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation, also found baby boomers emotionally distraught about their aging parents' future. The poll stated that 82% fear their parents will be mistreated in a nursing home and 89% worry their parents will be sad.

Bottom line, Americans of all ages value their ability to live independently. But without a plan for aging in place, it can be hard to stay in control of your life. Knowing your health risks and financial options can make a big difference in your ability to stay in a familiar place. Aside from active life expectancy, chronic illnesses and the ability to provide for daily needs must be considered in the plan. As lifestyles and needs change, the home environment must change to make it possible to remain safely at home.

Home modifications make living at home safe, comfortable, accessible, and enjoyable. In some cases, it may be better to convert part of the caregiver's home into on "accessory apartment," designed to accommodate the physical needs of an elderly relative. An accessory apartment provides a safe, accessible living space while maintaining independence for both the caregiver and the carereceiver. Home modifications help a person remain at home with dignity, safety and comfort.

The following are examples of some of the potential safety risks within a home and some of the possible solutions.

Ramps or stair glides
Railings on both sides
Lighting at top and bottom of stair
Non-slip surfaces on treads
Adjust height of riser

Grab bars
Accessible sinks
Built in shower seats
Faucet levers
Mirror extensions
Wider doorway
Control of water temperatures

Non-slip surfaces throughout the house

Peep holes
Door intercoms

Jumbo-button telephones
Adjustments for hard of hearing
Telephones throughout the house
Telephone awareness lights

Lower counters and shelves
Wider doorways
Jumbo face clocks
Lower windows
Under counter lights

Rearrange closet space
On/off touch control lamps
Crank operated windows
Widen doorway

Ground fault circuit interrupter-type (GFCI) electrical outlets

Oversized light switches or lighted switches
Night lights in rooms and hallways
General lighting improvement throughout the house

Smoke alarms
Fire extinguishers
Security systems (medical and personal)

National Aging in Place Council