Cape Gazette
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Home makeovers help seniors age in place

By David Forman | May 30, 2013

Nearly everyone hopes to age in place, a term used by healthcare professionals to mean seniors remaining in their own homes, rather than moving to assisted living or otherwise having to move from their primary residence.

As health conditions and needs change, it is not always a matter of simple choice, but a serious decision that necessitates discussions among entire families.

Oftentimes changes to the home are required. In other words, the home must be "seniorized” for safety.

The following suggestions are timely for seasonal residents returning to the local area, seniors returning from a hospital visit or a rehabilitation facility, and all seniors and families who wish to prevent accidents and hospital readmissions. Where possible, local resources are provided with contact information.

Safety First

Fireproof your home. Always have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

Install and check batteries in all smoke alarms. Refrain from using candles, and never leave them unattended. Clean your lint trap with every dryer use. Don’t overload electrical wires.

Install a carbon monoxide detector that sounds an alarm close to bedrooms and living rooms.

Update lighting throughout the home. Use motion-detecting lighting; light all stairs, porches and entryways, and use nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways.

Establish an emergency escape plan in case of fire, storms or other disasters. Keep at least five days' worth of bottled water and nonperishable foods available.

Consider a life-alert system and wear it. Call Life-Alert at 800-920-3410 or visit lifealert.com.

Remove hazards around the home

Build a small ramp over main doorway entrance thresholds. Remove throw rugs, especially when transitioning to a cane, walker or wheelchair. Repair loose carpet or raised areas of flooring

Make bathrooms safer

Install grab handles in bathrooms. Call Steve at Master Grab-bar, 302-644-4404 or visit Mastergrabbar.com/. Place nonskid mats inside and outside shower or tub and near the toilet and sinks. Use shower chairs and bath benches. Call Jack at Medtix, 302-645-8070 or medtix.com. Have bathtub converted to a walk-in shower. Call Fred at Tub-2-Shower, 302-629-3792 or go to Tub2shower.net.

Make daily activities simpler

Store household items on lower shelves for easier reach. Use a step stool with handrails. Purchase a phone with larger numbers. Clarity Products offers a large selection of amplified and large key phones; call 800-426-3738 or visit clarityproducts.com.

Consider services that come to the home. In-home hairstyling can be done by Traveling Trimmers; call 302-519-3620.

These home makeover recommendations are an important first step to help seniors age in place. Visiting Angels, a company that provides caregivers to help people retain their independence, also suggests home care help. From a few hours to 24/7 care, their aides help with personal care, meal preparation, light housework, medication reminders, errands, shopping and appointments, and compassionate companionship.

Call for more information 302-329-9475 or go to visitingangels.com/sussexde.

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