What Changes Make a Home Safer as You Age?

By Michael Ritter

According to the Federal Housing Administration, close to 90% of all homeowners will want to stay in their homes as they enter their golden years. However, many of them did not consider the need for adaptations for aging when they purchased their homes when they were younger. It is important for older adults to incorporate necessary home safety features to make their house their life-long home.

To age in place means having the ability to stay in your own home safely, independently and comfortably as you get older. Before reaching senior status, there are some important steps you can follow to allow you to age in place safely.

As a physical therapist at PACE-CNY, I conduct in-home safety assessments for seniors. I often visit residences of PACE-CNY participants to assess housing conditions to ensure that their living environment meets their individual care plan needs. Most importantly, it is imperative that a home is as fall-proof as possible and it is safe and easy for a person to get around.

While walking through the house, I have full a check list of common items to assess. Here are just a few things that make a home age-in-place appropriate:

• Avoid area rugs and be sure all carpeting is securely fixed to the floor
• Use a chair or bench in the shower
• Install grab bars in bathroom — near toilets and inside showers and tubs
• Use rails on stairs (both sides if possible). Never use area rugs at the top of stairs
• Replace standard doorknobs with lever handles
• Replace low toilets with a raised toilet
• Create a first-floor bedroom and living space
• Widen doorways to accommodate a walker or wheelchair if it becomes necessary
• Move laundry room to the main level

Do you know someone who needs help with daily activities? Do you worry about a loved one at home? PACE-CNY can help you or your loved one receive the care needed to age in place at home.

With PACE-CNY you’ll have a team of healthcare professionals working with you and your family to provide your loved one with the personalized care they need. We offer in-home services that provide an alternative to nursing home placement. Contact us at 315-452-5800 or visit us at pacecny.org.

Michael Ritter is a physical therapist who holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. He is director of rehabilitation at PACE-CNY, a program affiliated with Loretto.


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