Whether you have an older adult in your household or there is one in your life who you care for, you can make certain changes to a home to ensure that they are safe and well-taken care of. These tips are all the more important if an older adult is trying to maintain their independence and live on their own. If they are willing to get the help and put in the work to adapt their home to fit the specific needs they have in this new stage of life, this is possible.
Here are some tips to make sure each part of an older adult’s current home is safe and provides them the comfortable life they deserve:
How to Organize a Kitchen for the Elderly
Allowing older adults to be independent means they need to be able to make themselves food easily and safely. Additionally, many people enjoy cooking and baking, and stripping older adults of that privilege could take some of their happiness. Here are some tips for making a senior-friendly kitchen:
1. Smart Storage
Making this change doesn’t need to cost much. Begin by finding out from the person using the kitchen what they need most often, then place these items on lower shelves. If they use a wheelchair, ensure those most-used things are reachable from a sitting position.
One practical yet simple thing you can do to make things easier to reach is to place baking sheets, cutting boards and other flat kitchen supplies on their end and use a dowel to hold them upright in the cabinet.
Other additions such as lazy susan trays, wire organizers, pull-down shelves and slide shelving can allow kitchen cabinets for the elderly to hold more of the things they need to be more accessible.
If an older adult feels like they need to add more accessible storage than what they already have, they can invest in a framed pantry cabinet. This cabinet is easily customized and fits inside your walls, so it does not take up any additional floor space.
If the spice rack is somewhere out of reach, you can put it on the wall at a height that is easily accessible to the person’s needs.
Good lighting in a kitchen can play a big part in preventing accidents or dangerous situations for older adults. Ensure there are enough light fixtures in the kitchen and update or replace the existing fixtures as needed.
You should also inspect the light switches to ensure they are easy to use and replace those that are not. You may want to use switches that require less effort than traditional switches even if the existing switches are in good condition.
3. Drawer Handles
Older adults often develop arthritis in their hands, making pulling on round knobs challenging. Wide drawer pulls are easier for people with arthritis to use, though other options, such as a touch drawer system, are also available.
Though changing the sink may require some time and effort, it could make a huge difference if someone has difficulty using it where it currently is. The sink may need to move locations or become a roll-under sink for older adults who use wheelchairs. Shallow sinks will also prove to be helpful for those who have trouble reaching. Investing in a hands-free sink can also allow sinks to stay where they are if the older adult has issues reaching the faucet handles.
How to Organize a Bathroom for Older Adults
The bathroom poses several safety hazards due to wet floors, limited space to move and sharp countertops. It is vital to take precautionary measures in the bathroom, especially for older adults who are not as stable as younger people when moving around. Here are some tips to keep them safe:
Having a cluttered bathroom can cause an accident or make an accident worse. If there is clutter on the bathroom floor, it could be very easy to trip over as bathrooms typically are not very big. Perhaps an older adult slips and reaches for a shelf to catch themselves. If there is clutter on the shelves, they could knock it off and further hurt themselves. An older adult could also knock clutter off countertops, making that another important place to keep clear.
6. Smart Organization
To keep spaces decluttered, you need to be organized. When choosing how to organize the bathroom, keep in mind what items an older adult frequently needs, as these things should be the most easily accessible. Look at these areas of the bathroom:
- Sink and vanity: The vanity is where people spend time getting ready for the day, taking medicine and brushing their teeth. The medicine cabinet should be placed where they can easily reach it. If an older adult has difficulty reaching over the sink, consider installing a shelf over the toilet. Having cabinets for seniors on the wall where they can more easily access them could be another solution.
- Toilet: Ensure the toilet paper and anything else an older adult may need from the toilet are close by so they do not need to reach and put themselves at risk for falling.
- Bathtub or shower: Showering or bathing can pose a serious risk to older adults. Things they need are traditionally stored on shelves in the corners of showers, which can cause older adults to need to move around more, increasing their risk of falling. A shower caddy or wall dispenser they can easily reach without as much movement can be helpful solutions.
Adding non-slip flooring to the bathroom provides additional protection for older adults as they walk around on potentially wet floors. You can also get area rugs to keep areas where water is dripping dry and less hazardous.
You could also install non-slip strips in the shower or tub. These can be especially helpful if an older adult is standing in the shower to provide some extra traction.
8. Grab Bars
Install grab bars where an older adult needs support, such as near the shower and the toilet. Be sure you use bars specifically designed to hold weight, not just a towel rack or something similar. Some grab bars can be suctioned to the wall so they do not cause damage, but the most secure bars are wall-mounted.
Grab bars provide the helping hand an older adult needs when no one else is around.
Living Room Organization for the Elderly
The living room is likely where older adults spend most of their time, especially if they are home a lot. As they age, making certain changes can improve their quality of life at home and keep them safe. Here are some tips to ensure that the living room is set up well:
9. Furniture Setup
Think through the layout of the living room very practically. If an older adult has a walker, a wheelchair or a cane, there needs to be enough space for them to move easily through the living room with their assistive device. Remove unnecessary end tables, chairs or couches to increase the space they have to move around. Many items of furniture may no longer be practical anyway as people age and their needs change.
10. Furniture Choices
As people age, getting out of seats can become more difficult, especially from couches and recliners that do not provide a lot of resistance. Test the furniture in an older adult’s home to ensure they can easily get in and out of it when no one is around to assist them. You should also avoid furniture with sharp corners as much as possible to prevent further injury if they fall.
Living rooms get naturally cluttered very quickly because it is the place where so much of life happens. Though this isn’t inherently bad for the average American household, it can be dangerous for older adults. Clutter can easily and quickly move from surfaces to the floor, where it can be a tripping hazard for older adults moving around. Clutter poses a physical risk and can make it harder for people with slow cognitive function or memory issues to focus.
Having a pet is often emotionally and physically beneficial to older adults, whether they are service animals or companions. If there is a pet in the house, store their bed, toys and other essentials somewhere an older adult can access them easily if needed but will not trip over them.
Store any wired electronics carefully and secure wires along the wall so they do not create a tripping hazard. Electronics can also be complicated for older adults to use, especially if their mental state has declined as they’ve aged. Many TVs have settings you can change to make the font on the screen bigger, brighter and overall easier to see. If an older adult has trouble hearing, you can ensure the volume is higher than it would be for the average person or turn on closed captioning.
Most living rooms are carpeted, which is the safest option for older adults as long as it is a low-pile carpeting option rather than shag carpet. If the living room has tile, vinyl or natural stone, consider replacing it or adding area rugs, as these types of floors are hard and can be slippery.
If you do choose to add rugs to the floor, make sure you secure them to the floor. If rugs slide easily or the corners curl up, this can be a serious fall or tripping risk for older adults.
Bedroom Organization for Older Adults
People go in and out of their bedrooms daily. Older adults need clear paths to get to everything they use in their bedrooms. Here are some tips to help you make sure an older adult’s bedroom is safe:
14. Organize Clothing
Going through an older adult’s wardrobe and getting rid of clothes they don’t need anymore can decrease fall hazards in their bedroom. Closets and dressers can be challenging to keep organized, and clothes often end up on the floor. The fewer clothes an older adult owns, the less risk there will be of tripping over them.
Cleaning out the closet will also make it easier to organize everything neatly and accessibly. You may want to add low shelves and easy-to-use drawers to the closet to ensure an older adult has no issue getting to the clothes they need.
Once again, getting rid of clutter is incredibly important in keeping older adults safe. Make sure their dressers, nightstands and any other surfaces are clear of things that could be harmful should they get knocked off.
When evaluating the bedroom furniture, decide whether each item is necessary to meet the older adult’s needs. Ensure they have adequate space to move around, and account for any extra space they may need for assistive devices as well.
16. Avoid Under the Bed Storage
Avoid storing things under the bed in an older adult’s bedroom. It will likely be incredibly difficult for them to get to items under the bed. Additionally, older adults who have memory issues can easily forget if they put something there since it is so out of sight.
Contact WG Wood Products for Help Making Accessible Renovations
WG Wood Products was established in 2002 to fill the need we saw in the market for sustainable home improvement pieces made in the U.S. and built to last.
At WG Wood Products, we have over 10,000 items that we continually update to ensure we meet your needs. We have helped more than 1 million customers and maintain a 99% feedback rating of five stars. Our customers rate us so highly because we hold our products to a very high standard and deliver that quality every time. We also hold things with an open hand — we are always willing to consider feedback and suggestions and often make changes to our products to ensure they are the best they can be.
Our products are all made in the U.S. from solid wood and come with free shipping and free customizations. When adding things to your home to make it more senior-friendly, being able to customize it to exactly what you’re looking for can save you time and money and keep the older adult in your life safer.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get precisely what you need. Call us at 913-829-6000 or fill out our contact form.