The Baby Boomer generation dramatically changed America in many ways, and they’re continuing to shape the country today. As this large, independent generation gets older, the focus is turning away from nursing homes to home health care later in life.
A survey from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging found that 75% of respondents planned to live the rest of their life in their current home. But sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Elderly individuals face a number of unique challenges that aren’t an issue in younger years. Everything from reduced mobility to weakening eyesight can lead to health risks at home. If you or a family member plan to age gracefully at home, here are a few ways you can make it a safer place to live.
Manage Fall Risks
Falls are one of the greatest risks for the elderly. The Centers for Disease Control reports that over 25% of people 65 and older will suffer a fall. Unfortunately, many of these falls lead to serious injury and even death.
The idea is scary, but there’s a lot you can do to manage fall risks around the home. Even your furniture selection can make a difference when you’re older. Getting up and down out of the recliner or couch can be difficult for those with back problems, arthritis and a number of other age-related problems. Furniture that offers more support is the better option. There are also recliners known as lift chairs that are designed to help people to their feet from a sitting or resting position. It’s an investment so be sure to read lift chair reviews to get a better understanding of how they work and which features you’ll need.
Stair lifts are also useful for people who own a two-story home. If you can’t move the master bedroom downstairs, a stair lift system can be installed in your existing staircase to make going up and down the stairs much safer.
When it comes to outdoor parts of the home, you may need to adjust the one or more entry doors if there are stairs leading up to the doorway. A ramp is much easier on the joints, is wheelchair accessible and reduces the risk of a fall. Before you install a ramp check the local building codes. Typically, there are minimum standards that must be met for safety reasons.
Improve the Lighting
Stairs aren’t the only trip hazard in a home. Inadequate lighting may also be an issue. This is largely because our eyesight gets worse as we age. Poor eyesight paired with poor lighting can cause people to miss objects or misjudge how close they are to trip hazards.
Aging in place design experts note there are many ways to improve lighting in the homes of older individuals:
- Use two-way light switches
- Add motion sensor lights
- Put light sensor nightlights around the house
- Install more lighting features to increase illumination
- Replace standard switches with toggle switches
Hire Home Health Care When You Need It
Instead of getting health care at a nursing home, caregivers are coming into people’s homes to provide aid. Today, more people are entering this field of work to meet the needs of our aging population. Who you choose as a caregiver can have a huge impact on your quality of life.
Check with your insurance company first to determine how much financial assistance you can receive and if more coverage is provided for caregivers within a certain network. Take the time to interview at least three caregivers. Ask the right questions during a caregiver interview to find the professional who has the right experience and personality. You’ll work very closely with this person for years to come so it’s important to get along on a professional and personal level.
Invest in Smart Home Features
Young people may be the first to adopt new technology, but older people can benefit from it as much or more so. Smart home features are the perfect example. They put systems on autopilot and make it easier to make adjustments with a click of a button. Family members can also be added to apps so that they can help you control systems.
Get a Wearable Medical Alert
One of the biggest concerns for elderly people that remain in their own homes is suffering an injury and not being able to get help. A simple wearable device can alleviate a lot of that concern.
Medical alert systems come in all shapes and sizes. On the most basic level, the device will send an alert to local emergency responders and/or a loved one if it detects a fall. However, technology has greatly advanced these systems in recent years. There are now options that will also monitor heart rate, have GPS location detection and allow for two-way communication.
Staying at home later in life is possible, but precautions need to be taken. When you prepare for the future your home will be a safer place where you continue to make memories and live life to the fullest.