Before embarking on your retirement life, make sure you have a safe home!
If you’ve entered retirement or are close to it, the main thing on your mind is probably relaxing after all those years of hard work. And while that’s amazing, have you considered the lifestyle changes? This is a subject no one wants to talk about.
But you may need to make some changes in your home for security’s sake! With aging often comes retro-fitting some new features to ensure seniors remain safe.
Suppose your home will be a temporary stage for transitioning between independent living and moving into a residence designed for seniors. In that case, it can be challenging to balance safety over the short term without damaging your home’s value over the long term.
We’ll break down the modifications you may need to make to your home and how to make them without impacting your home’s value…too much: Here are 8 smart ways to make a home safer for seniors!
1. You should go through every room of your house, looking for any potential issues.
To begin, you have to move through your home to look at it through a fresh pair of eyes, ones that are out to find every little thing that might likely cause a fall.
We recommend keeping a notepad with you as you go through each room, so you can note everything you need to modify.
You can ask a friend to join you so you have help when looking out for potential dangers from someone who will have a much easier time seeing things you’ll miss due to your familiarity with the home.
Things to think about:
- Items that would be potentially out of reach
- Anything you may trip over
- Anything likely to fall at an unsuitable moment
- Anything you might bump into in the dark
- Anything you would have to step over, especially if it requires a higher step
It’s hard to look at the same rooms you see every day and see them any different, but that’s your goal here. Recognize all the potential hazards, even if they seem relatively minimal, so you can turn your notes into a to-do list of things to update to make your home safer.
2. Get rid of any rugs
Even though rugs can really add some excellent aesthetics to your rooms, they pose a danger to seniors. The edges can be a huge tripping hazard. And anytime the rug starts to bunch up, the upraised spots also become a tripping risk.
No matter how much you love the visual appeal they might bring to a room, it’s not worth risking a severe fall. Give them to friends and loved ones, or put them into a storage space. Just get them out of the way, so they won’t be lying in wait to trip you.
3. Re-arrange your furniture
You should make sure that every room has lots of clear paths that you can take to get around without any risks of running into or tripping over anything.
That will probably mean having to re-arrange some of the furniture in your home to move more items against the wall or out of the way. We don’t recommend trying to do this step on your own. Ask a close friend to come over and help you.
You may have to eliminate some items that don’t fit anywhere out-of-the-way in the room. If it keeps you safe and reduces the likelihood of ending up having to spend some time in a hospital room, the loss will be well worth it.
4. Add some more lighting around your home
The better you can see everything that’s around you, the more you reduce the risk of running into or tripping over something.
You should add some lighting low on your walls anywhere in the house where you have a step or something that you could risk tripping over or running into.
Be sure to also add lights under your kitchen cabinets to better illuminate the counters where you make food. You can buy some inexpensive stick-on tap lights as a hassle-free solution in many spaces that need more lighting.
And try to stick with adding lights that don’t require cords which you might trip over as much as possible.
5. Re-organize your cabinets for more suitable accessibility
Anytime you try getting on a chair or even a stepladder to reach for something, you’re putting yourself at undue risk.
Tackle all the cabinets in your bathroom, kitchen, and elsewhere in your home to move anything that’s currently out of reach and store it somewhere lower. Have a family member help you do it.
If you’re standing on a chair to do this task yourself, you’re defeating the purpose. You might need to get creative or buy some new organizational items to start storing some things that used to live in high-up cabinets on your counters.
Even if it makes this area look a bit more cluttered, the convenience and increased safety of keeping the things you’ll need accessible is well worth it.
6. Make the bathroom safer
They might not seem that way to the average observer, but bathrooms are the most dangerous room a home can have. Wet floors are a slipping hazard. Bathtubs can become hard to step over. And getting on and off your toilet can become a difficult task every time.
You can make a huge difference in home safety by simply strategically installing a few grab bars around the room to make it easier to keep your balance as you navigate the dangers of your bathroom.
Besides grab bars, think about the various options available to make getting in and out of the bathtub easier. While walk-in tubs are very popular, you can find several low-budget or more practical alternatives that might be easier to execute in your own space.
The right tools can make the process of taking a bath or shower each day much safer.
7. Hire a regular cleaning service
We know this one might be a little hard to accept. You’ve gotten used to your space and doing things your own way. And you might not think to equate cleanliness with safety.
But as aging makes it harder to keep a home consistently clean by yourself, it can very quickly become a safety hazard. A dirty house can lead to bugs and other encounters with lots of harmful bacteria or allergens.
To keep your house safe and sanitary in the long term, you should hire someone that can help with the around-the-house cleaning chores you’ll have a hard time doing by yourself.
8. Consider buying a medical response system
One of the biggest fears for many family members of seniors is the possibility of their loved one being hurt or suffering a medical emergency with no one around to call or be able to call for help.
A medical alert system will help ease that fear by monitoring a senior’s health and immediately alerting the appropriate services and loved ones when a senior experiences a fall or any other type of medical emergency.
A matter of minutes can make a massive difference in an emergency, and medical response systems ensure that someone living alone will get care as soon as possible.
These few changes to your home aren’t as fun as replacing kitchen countertops or putting up new tiles in your walk-in shower. But they’re definitely worth the small investment for your peace of mind!
For some more helpful info on how to live better in your retirement life, we also recommend reading: Got a 401(k) Plan? Here’s How You CAN and CAN’T Take Advantage of It