A couple years ago I took an Aging In Place certification class. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was interesting to see the different professions of people taking the class that included contractors, designers, occupational therapists and medical suppliers.
What is Aging In Place?
Aging in Place about how to help older people stay independent in their homes for as long as possible. If given the choice, I don’t think anyone wants to go to a nursing home if they didn’t have to. We all want to stay in our own home, right? So, the class was to teach us how to make the home a safer environment that suits each individual.
As we age, it’s natural that we slowly lose mobility. Our eyesight becomes weaker, our balance isn’t as stable and some of us lose our hearing.
In fact, they say the younger generation may have more hearing and eyesight issues in the future because of headphones and the mobile phone. I believe this. I can tell my eyes have deteriorated a lot over the last 10 years. In my case of course there’s age but texting and reading on the phone doesn’t help…
So, how do we stay in our homes longer. What can we do?
Home means familiarity. We know where everything is. We have a comfortable routine. But sometimes we don’t think about changing anything because it’s worked for so long. Why change it?
A lot of times, it’s the adult children that must make these changes for their parents. But if you’re not quite there yet, it may be a good idea to start thinking about these things.
Here are 3 easy things you can do now.
Tip number 1.
Grab bars. Adding grab bars in a shower is a good idea for safety issues. Your feet are wet, there’s soap everywhere, so it’s easy to slip.
First, how long should a bar be? They say 18″ to 24″ is good.
Second, make sure it’s comfortable to grab.
Third, position them according to your height. In general, us Asians are shorter. So go lower than the standard recommended height if you’re short like me. For my taller clients, I move things higher so they don’t have to bend so low. Customize it for better safety.
Where to put grab bars?
There are two places that are quite useful. One is by the entry of your shower door. Putting a vertical bar makes it comfortable for you to grab as you get in and out of the shower. If you have a large shower, adding a horizontal bar across the length of the shower can help as you take a few steps. And this can be used as a towel rack too.
Tip Number 2.
Add more lights around the house. In my old house I hated the dark rooms downstairs. So I added a ton of recessed downlights. The contractor joked with me and said, “Are you planning to do surgery down here?”
I wasn’t concerned about what he thought, I wanted it bright! And I’m happy I did it. With the added light, the room was so much more inviting. We actually used it a lot more!
Help yourself by adding more lights. Not only can you see more clearly but it’s uplifting.
Tip Number 3.
Carpets are good for aging in place. I know that hardwood is the choice of many. But, even the geriatric doctor told my elderly parents that carpet would help protect them if they fell. Well, he was right. My Dad fell and fortunately, he was fine. My Mom had a fall too. She too was lucky that she wasn’t hurt.
The doctor said he’s seen many broken bones because the floor was too hard. If you do have hard surfaces, you can add a rug. Just make sure the edges stay down so you don’t trip.
I think more and more people will want to stay in their homes as long as possible. And now with technology, more knowledge and with more services, I think we can.
If you have questions on Aging in Place, please leave it in the comments. I’m a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, or what they call CAPS, and I’d love to help.