Amy Natt
October 22, 2019

How to SAFELY Stay Living at Home as You Age


Living at home as you age can seem like the ideal way to spend your golden years.

You envision holiday meals shared with loved ones, spoiling your grandbabies as much as possible, and doing all the things you enjoy the most while in the comfort of your own home.

We want to imagine ourselves living for a long time and maintaining our independence, but as you get older, daily activities start to become more and more challenging.

Your struggles may grow gradually, or an illness could make your life more complicated overnight. You may find yourself avoiding day-to-day necessities because they are just becoming too difficult.

You don’t have to give up your independence just because things are a little harder — but you do need to consider making some changes. Simple adjustments can make all the difference if you want to enjoy living in your home longer.

Living at Home as You Age: 6 Safety Tips

Let us show you some simple tips that can help you make your home safer and your daily activities easier. As you read through this list, think about the things that you find yourself avoiding more and more each day. Consider the changes you could make sooner that would make things less challenging.


1.

Safety in the Bathroom

The bathroom is the hub of cleanliness and must be easily accessible for you if you’re going to maintain basic hygiene. The key areas of concern are the tub and shower, toilet, and storage options that are hard to reach.

As we age, certain tasks become harder. Balancing, stepping over tall objects, and reaching for things all start to be more stressful and we tend to avoid them.

Difficult or not, you have to be able to take care of your hygiene. There are steps you can take to make your bathroom more accessible for you and make things like showers much more enjoyable again.

  • Install handicap rails/bars in the shower to make getting in and out easier.
  • Install handicap rails/bars by the toilet to make it easier to sit and get up.
  • Purchase a shower chair so you can sit while you shower to prevent accidental falls.
  • Use a transfer bench to help you get in and out of the shower without having to climb over the tub.
  • If you have a bathtub, consider having it replaced with a walk-in shower to make it more accessible.
  • Use rubber mats or non-slip stickers in the shower/tub to help prevent slips.
  • Check your faucets and make sure they are easy to turn on and off.
  • Place a rubber-backed, bath mat in front of the shower.
  • Have a cordless phone within easy reach in case you need to call for help.
  • Install safer storage solutions that are easier to reach and open.
  • Don’t store your pills in your bathroom. Humidity is not good for most medications.
2.

Safety in the Bedroom

Bedrooms are a place of rest and your private haven for changing clothes and getting ready to take on a new day. They also can become a pretty stressful place to be if you’re struggling with day-to-day tasks like getting in and out of bed or getting dressed.

Here are a few suggestions to help you make sure your bedroom is easy-to-use and more enjoyable again.

  • Install handicap rails/bars next to the bed and any chairs.
  • Declutter the room to prevent injury from tripping — especially tv and lamp cords.
  • Make sure any rugs in the room have anti-slip backings to prevent falls.
  • Use cord covers on any exposed cords or cables to prevent tripping.
  • Check the height of your bed and make sure it isn’t too high or too low for you to comfortably climb onto.
  • Make sure you have a lamp or some kind of light close to the bed to prevent falls or injury at night.
  • Have a cordless phone next to the bed in case you need help.
  • Install storage solutions with easy to open drawers and doors to make it easier to get to your clothes.
  • Consider easier alternatives in your clothing choices. This may include slip-on shoes without laces and clothes that slip on easier without a lot of buttons.
  • Add a chair to your bedroom to give you a place to sit down while getting dressed.
  • Install door locks that can be opened from both sides in case you were to need assistance.
  • Use AM/PM pill sorters to keep your medications organized.
3.

Safety in the Kitchen

Cooking Sunday morning breakfast for your family used to be a highlight of your week. Now, a simple meal for two at night is becoming challenging.

It’s harder to get the pans you need out of the cupboard, you spill things more frequently, and bending over to scrub up messes is getting harder to do.

If you’re resorting to TV dinners and take-out meals because cooking is becoming too hard, then there are some things you can do to make it easier — and safer — to cook again.

  • Purchase anti-slip mats to place in front of your stove and sink to help prevent slips.
  • Consider cooking in smaller and easier to handle pots and pans when you’re making smaller meals.
  • Keep sharp objects like knives on racks instead of in drawers.
  • Make sure that anything you use frequently is placed in easy to reach places to prevent falls and injuries.
  • Mark the on and off positions on your appliances so they are easier to read.
  • Have a cordless phone within easy reach in case you need to call for help.
  • If your counters are not at a comfortable height, consider having them moved or replaced.
  • Keep cleaning products that are dangerous if mixed properly labeled to help prevent accidents with mixing chemicals.
  • Store cleaning products separately from your food.
  • Hang your upper cabinets lower or install pull-down shelving to make them easier to access.
  • Don’t leave your stove on when you’re not at home or asleep.
  • Replace any torn or frayed wires or cords on your appliances to prevent fires.
  • Install a working fire extinguisher.
  • Store cleaning products separately from your food.
  • Check the expiration dates on your food often.
4.

Safety Outside the Home

Having a summer garden or enjoying a book on the porch can be peaceful and relaxing, but enjoying the outdoors can also pose some additional challenges for you.

You may be having difficulty stepping over doorway thresholds, making your way down the front steps, or getting up and down out of your favorite porch chair. Instead of enjoying the fresh air, you start staying inside more and more because it’s just easier and safer.

  • If you have a garage, install doors that open automatically to make it easier to access.
  • Stairs should be in good condition and uncluttered to prevent any accidents or falls.
  • Keep porches, walkways, and your driveway free of clutter and debris to prevent trips or falls.
  • In case of snow or ice, pour salt or sand on your walkways and driveway to prevent slips.
  • Consider hiring a lawn care company to maintain your yard.
  • Install handrails on steps to make it easier to keep your balance.
  • Make sure all rugs or mats are slip-resistant.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and won’t cause you to trip or lose your balance.
  • Install lights outside to make sure it’s well lit at night.
  • Add reflective surfaces to your walkways and driveways.
  • Cover or move any exposed cords or wires to prevent tripping.
5.

Safety When Heating and Cooling Your Home

As we age, our bodies don’t regulate our temperature as well, so it’s important to make sure that you are controlling your exposure to hot and cold weather.

In cooler weather, the risk of heating-related fires among the elderly goes up. According to ESFI, these types of fires are the 2nd leading cause of death among older adults.

In warmer weather, you need to make sure your unit is functioning properly. Extremely hot days can be a serious health risk without a working air conditioner to keep you cool.

  • Don’t place flammable items within 3 feet of any heating equipment. This includes furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces, and stoves.
  • Have your unit serviced and inspected by a professional twice a year — in the spring and in the fall before the weather changes dramatically.
  • Keep your vents clear of any debris.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms throughout your home.
  • Inspect heaters for broken plugs, loose connections, and frayed wires before every use.
  • Keep heaters out of areas where they can be a potential tripping hazard.
  • Plug heaters into an outlet. DO NOT use an extension cord.
  • Keep heaters out of wet or damp areas unless specified as safe for use in those conditions by the manufacturer.
  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected every year by a professional.
  • Use a screen for your fireplace to prevent sparks from flying out into the room.

For a more in-depth list of safety tips for heating your home, check out this post on the EFI website.


Related Reading: Independent Living Versus Assisted Living: Which is a better fit?

6.

Consult with a Care Manager

This is a lot of information to digest and you might be finding the thought of making all these changes extremely overwhelming.


You don't have to make the tough decisions alone! Talk with one of our Professional Care Managers to get the advice you need today!


They will work with you to develop a customized care plan to fit your needs and their assistance won’t stop there!


Your Professional Care Manager will continue to advise you every step of the way so you can take steps to help you continue living at home as you age.

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Life over 50 is complicated. From illnesses to general aging-related difficulties, there's a lot to learn and a lot to cope with. We understand and we're here to help answer questions and provide guidance on your options.


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