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Making Your Home Safe For The Aging

Have you ever thought about your own safety in your home as you age? It is something you should consider as early as your 40s and 50s.

Those who plan to live out many years in your home as you age- you need to start looking critically at your environment. I am talking about steps and walkways, door widths, flooring choices, placement of important appliances, and kitchen and bath aspects for aging safely in your home.

When we are doing public events, I always have a slide that says– P-L-A-N — and what this stands for in my talk is to “please look at this now!” Not when you needed it yesterday! Most of us want to live comfortably in the home were in now or you maybe are planning to downsize or move closer to move in with family. Consider these tips when thinking about necessary changes to your home environment in order to improve mobility and reach and certainly safety!

What can you do to make your home age friendly? Let us first start with mobility through your home-being able to walk independently or with a can or walker or maybe even with a wheelchair. You need to look at your doors. Think about widening the doorways! Most doors are regular sized but bathroom doors can be smaller and it is an important room to be able to get in and out of. Speaking of getting in and out of the home- what do the steps in look like? How many are there? Are there railings? Sometimes grab bars strategically placed can assist you in getting up a last step safely in the threshold of a doorway. Some people may need a ramp be it temporary or permanent- this can be difficult if there are many steps to ramp over. Indoor steps can be outfitted with grab bars, a second hand rail for coverage on both sides or even a stair lift.

Bathroom modifications can be anything from adding grab bars and a showerhead that is removable and hand held to changing the tub entrance to replacing it all with a walk in shower with a bench. In the kitchen appliances can be in tough to reach spots. Cabinets, sinks and countertops that are no longer in ideal locations can be adjusted by professional contractors.

Microwaves can be placed in microwave stands, as opposed to being at the back of the counter or in raised microwave cabinets.

Consider flooring choices. Hardwood, tile, laminate, and vinyl floors are smooth and may allow for easier wheelchair maneuvering, but they also tend to be more slippery than carpeting. People often use throw rugs on these types of flooring, so be sure that you either get rid of them or securely tape them down to prevent trips and falls. Even door handles can be changed to make it easier to grip and open.

Many things can be low-cost ideas.

Improving the lighting through your home, using high contrast colored tape to identify the steps and night-lights everywhere for help at night. Our home is our castle and many of us want to remain right where we are. Take a look around your home using this new perspective and see what may be helpful to you. Don’t forget a house number sign so you can be seen and identified when needed. You can call NY Connects for more information about home modifications and programs that may be able to assist you. We are here for you!

NY Connects is your access to local community services and supports open to all residents living in Chautauqua County. This service is confidential and free. Our phone number is 800-342-9871 or local Mayville at 716-753-4582, Jamestown at 716-661-7582 or Dunkirk at 716-363-4582. Call us on the phone or email ccnyc@chqgov.com.

NY Connects is brought to you by a partnership with Chautauqua County Office for the Aging and the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services.

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