Showing posts with label home safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home safety. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Home Safety Modifications for Senior Citizens

The vast majority of Americans plan to continue to live in their pre-retirement homes as long as possible.  In order to make that possible, many of them will need to make a few modifications to their homes so they are more accessible and safer.  Some of the modifications may be minor and can be done by the homeowner.  Others may require hiring a contractor.

Whether you do it yourself or hire someone to make the changes for you, the safer you can make your home the less likely you are to have an accident and be injured.  This is important because, according to the Centers for Disease Control, every year one out of three adults age 65 and older will experience a fall. Below is a list of common modifications and suggestions for hiring a reliable contractor so you will be able to safely stay in your home as long as possible.

Common Home Safety Modifications

Power stair lifts - If you own a two-story home and do not have a bedroom and full bathroom on the main floor, a power stair lift may make it easier for you to stay in your home even if you have surgery or find it difficult to climb stairs for other reasons.  Stair lifts can be expensive, so talk to several companies before making a decision.  Despite the cost, installing one will probably be cheaper than moving.

Grab bars in the shower or tub - If you add bars to the shower wall and an inexpensive shower chair, you can more easily continue to enjoy showers with less fear of slipping and falling.  A professional may be required to secure the bars to the wall, so it is done without cracking your tiles.

Walk-in tub - For those who prefer a bath to a shower, a walk-in tub is much safer than a traditional tub which requires you to step over the edge to climb in and out.  Contact several companies and try sitting in the tubs in the showroom before making your final selection.

Hand rails in hallways and stairs - If you have stairs around your home, make sure you have handrails to hold onto as you age.  Be especially aware of short outdoor stairs which often do not have rails alongside them.   A simple rail installed next to the stairs can make it much safer for you to use the steps.

Wheelchair / walker ramps - If the only way to currently enter your home is by using stairs, you may want to add a ramp so it will be easier to enter if you ever need to use a wheelchair or walker, even temporarily.  You do not want to wait until you need a ramp before you consider adding one.

Lower counters in kitchen and bathrooms - For the same reason you do not want to wait until you need them before you lower your kitchen and bathroom counters, you may want to investigate the idea of lowering yours before you find yourself using a wheelchair.

Changing door and cabinet knobs to levers - Levers are easier to use if you develop severe arthritis in your hands.  They are also attractive and easy to install years before you need them.  If you are handy, you may be able to handle this improvement yourself.

Widen doorways to accommodate a walker or wheelchair - There are narrow wheelchairs which can go through nearly any normal doorway.  However, if you are a very large person or have an unusually narrow door or tight space, you may want to see if you could widen the openings.  You may even consider making changes to your floorplan to open up the living area of your home.

Electrical Alterations - If you bring a contractor into your home to do other work, you may also consider asking them to raise your outlets and lower your light switches so both are easier to reach if you loose some of your mobility.

Make Simple Changes to Prevent Tripping - If your floors are covered with an assortment of rugs, you may consider removing them or using rubber mats under them to prevent their movement.  In addition, look for any other dangerous situations in your home, such as electrical wires and extension cords which you have to step over.  Change anything that could be dangerous in order to reduce your fall risk.  For example, instead of wearing normal socks in the house, it may be safer to wear indoor shoes or special socks with knobby, rubberized bottoms, which are not as slippery.  Take a long, hard look at your home and lifestyle, then do everything you can to reduce or eliminate dangerous situations.

How to Find a Reliable Contractor

For those home improvements which you are not able do yourself, you will need to hire a contractor.  However, you want to make sure you choose someone who is familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.  You can get a list of these contractors in your area from the National Association of Home Builders at  The person you hire should be able to evaluate the safety of your home and make a variety of suggestions in a range of prices.

In addition, call your State Contractor License Board to see if they have any additional information about the contractors in your areas.  Once you select a contractor, ask for their license number and verify its status with the board.  Do NOT use an unlicensed contractor.

Get at least three bids before making a final decision.  This could save you money.  At the same time, you do not necessarily want to use someone whose bid is dramatically lower than the other bids, unless you understand specifically why they are able to do the work so much more cheaply than their competitors.

Learn more about home modifications from the National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Modifications at

If you are interested in learning more about how to safely retire in your own home, common medical problems, other places to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

Watch for my book, Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement, which is due to be released by Griffin Publishing early in 2018.

You are reading from:

Photo credit:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Products for Safer Aging in Your Home

By the time you are in your 70s or 80s, there is a very good chance you will either be living alone or with a partially disabled spouse. Since the vast majority of senior citizens choose to live independently in their own home or apartment, seniors may feel more secure if they take advantage of modern technology to help them age safely.

As you age, you may begin to feel lonely and isolated, especially if it becomes difficult to drive or walk long distances.  You may also become uncomfortable if familiar neighbors move away and strangers occupy the neighboring homes.  In some cases, you could become unsure who to rely on in an emergency. However, there are a few simple purchases you can make which will keep you connected to the outside world and help you feel safer.

There are a wide variety of safety options available.  Most of them are useful long before you need them because of aging.  The items mentioned below fall into three categories ... items which will keep you safe from intruders, tools to make it easier to get help in an emergency, and products to reduce accidents in your home. 

Products to Protect Yourself from Intruders

Security Systems - Security systems are available from a number of companies including ADT and Costco.  When activated, they will sound an alarm if someone enters a door or window.  If the system you choose is connected to a monitoring company, the agent can contact the police or fire department if there are signs of an intruder or fire.

Ring Video Doorbell - If you simply want to know who is ringing your doorbell, the Ring Video doorbell has a camera which connects to your smartphone and will show you who is standing at your door, whether you are home or not.  It also allows you to speak to the person without opening your door.  You can even tell the UPS deliveryman to leave a package at your door, so you do not have to open the door to a stranger, especially if you are not expecting a delivery.

Motion-detector lights - If the area around your home is dark, motion-detector lights which come on automatically when anyone approaches will make intruders more visible and likely to flee if they are trying to break into your home.  It will also make you more aware of the fact that a person or animal has approached your home. Home Depot, Lowe's and lighting supply companies can sell you the light fixtures and arrange installation, although some of the devices can be easily screwed into an existing fixture.

Products for Contacting Assistance in an Emergency

Personal Safety Devices - You have probably seen the television ads with an elderly person falling and calling out, "Help, I can't get up."  The older you are, the greater the possibility this could actually happen.  There are several companies, such as Great Call, Life Alert and Medical Alert, which have products that can solve this problem.  You wear a bracelet or pendant and, should you need an ambulance, the fire department, or the police, you only need to press a button in order to be connected to a response agent who will call a friend, neighbor or the appropriate emergency service for you. Some of the devices work only in your home when you are near the transmitter.  Others will work wherever you go.  Make sure you understand how the system works before you purchase it.

Jitterbug and other Smart Phones - If you do not want to wear a medical alert pendant or bracelet, you could purchase a product like the Jitterbug phone which is an easy-to-use cell phone, texting and email device; it also doubles as a personal safety device which comes with Great Call's safety app.  You simply press an icon on the face of the phone and will be connected directly to a response agent who can get you the help you need.  If you do not want to purchase a new device, you can set up your current smart phone with an emergency call app, so it is quick and easy for you to call emergency services.  If you decide you prefer using a mobile phone rather than a personal safety device, it is important you carry your phone on your person or keep it within reach at all times.

CapTel Captioned Telephone - Do you have trouble hearing, which makes it difficult for you to easily use your home telephone?  The CapTel amplified and captioned telephone has a screen which converts the spoken word to captions on the phone's screen.  At the same time, the sound of the words are amplified by the phone. The combination of having the words made louder and a screen which allows you to read what the person is saying, makes it much easier for you to communicate with the outside world.  This could be especially important in an emergency when you do not want to waste time asking the other party to repeat what they are saying. 

Products to Prevent Accidents in Your Home

Night lights - Accidents are more likely to happen in the dark.  Having night lights in the bathroom and dark hallways will reduce your risk of tripping over something in the dark. In addition, if there is a fire in your home and your access to the nearest exit is obscured by smoke, night lights could help you find your way. You can find inexpensive night lights at nearly any drug or grocery store.

Illuminated light switch covers - Another way to add light to your home at night is to have the light switch covers changed to ones which are illuminated.  They will emit a tiny amount of light, but make it much easier to find the switch in a dark room.

Stair lifts - If you live in a two-story home and have difficulty going up and down the stairs, you do not have to put yourself at risk of falling.  Companies such as Acorn, AmeriGlide and Bruno Stair Lifts provide a safe way to sit on a seat and be carried safely up and down the stairs.  A stair lift can also make it possible for you to stay in a home you love, rather than move because the stairs are giving you difficulty.

Walk-in Bathtubs - One major danger when you live alone is a fall in your shower or bathtub.  One solution is purchasing an inexpensive waterproof stool to use in the shower.  Another solution is a walk-in bathtub.  You open a door on the side of the tub, walk in, sit on the seat and close the door.  Then you fill the tub with water.  The tubs often have heated seats and massaging hydro-jets to make the experience even more relaxing.  Most of all, however, you no longer have to step over the edge of a slippery tub to take a bath.  After your bath, you remain safely seated while you drain the tub, open the door and then step out.  American Standard, Safe Step, Kohler, Jacuzzi and several other companies offer these tubs, so it is wise to shop around for the one which feels comfortable and is the most affordable option for your needs.

Lift Chairs - If you have difficulty getting out of a chair, especially after surgery or an injury, a lift chair may make it easier for you to get to a standing position.  Some of them also double as the perfect sleep chairs and may come with heat and massage.  They can be very helpful if you have difficulty sleeping on a flat mattress or getting out of bed in the morning.

If you are interested in more information about dealing with common medical problems as you age, where to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs and pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credit: