Do Older Adults Who Are Not Wheelchair Bound Still Need An Accessible Home?

This month’s series will be geared towards our senior adults who want to Age In Place Safely. Let’s ponder the question above for a moment. Does everyone 60 and older need an accessible home? Well the answer is both Yes and No. Each person must be looked at individually. A few things to consider when assessing one’s living situations:

  1. Are there any health issues? If so what are they?
  2. Are there any balance problems or trouble walking?
  3. Can the older adult manage stairs safely?
  4. Are there vision problems?
  5. Is there a past history of a stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack-mimics stroke symptoms, better known as a mini stroke)?
  6. What kind of Adaptive Equipment for mobility does the senior homeowner use? ie walker, cane, prosthesis, scooter etc.

Of course these are just a few questions that need to be addressed. After these questions are answered, the next area of concern is of course, the environment/The HOME..
All seniors and/or their children or family members should take a close look at the place of residence. Whether the dwelling is a home, condo or townhouse, there could be barriers to safety that need to be addressed. Listed below are a few, but not nearly all of the barriers that our older adults should be aware of in their homes :stairs, bathtubs, small cluttered rooms,short width doorways/hallways, doorway thresholds, plumbing turn-ons, dishwasher height, toilet height,location of oven knobs

All of the barriers listed above pose a safety risk to older adults. There are dozens of additional items not listed, that also need to be assessed for home safety. It is extremely important to take a close look at your home, and make a list of all safety barriers you see. Avoiding falls in the home is imperative. It is recommended that a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) is hired to assist the older adults in making their home safe and barrier free. As stated in an earlier article, CAPS professionals are authorities in helping make a home accessible, barrier free, safe and functional.

A senior may feel safe in their home and may be used to the lay-out of the home, but as we age barriers become more difficult to manage. As a therapist, I would always tell my patients, “It only takes one second for something to happen”. The resident could be distracted, not looking at where they are walking, confused, rushing etc. It is best to dispose of as many barriers in the home as possible so when these “seconds” occur, there is a reduced risk of falling in the home. Reduced fall risks call for reduced hospital visits, which call for a happier and healthier time aging in place.
Going back to the title question, yes seniors who are not using a wheelchair still need to live in an accessible, safe, barrier-free home. Now if your home is completely barrier free and you are a healthy senior with no health, balance, vision, or hearing difficulties, then your home may not need any changes. My advice to my senior citizen friends is to please, please, please look at your home thoroughly. Hire someone to help you or call me anytime if you have any questions, or are not sure about safety issues in your home.

For Now My Friends, Stay Tuned and Stay Living Safe…

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