People aging in place need to think about their future needs while renovating their home so they can live independently, safely and comfortably. As people age, they get weak and frail, their eyesight diminishes and sometimes they need a wheelchair. Every house will be different based on the needs of the people living in them but generally the following changes will need to be made as soon as possible.
• Step free entrance to the home
• The bathroom, bedroom, living room, laundry and the kitchen should be on the ground floor. This arrangement will make their lives easier and safer. With the passage of time mobility issues will arise so to circumvent them it will be advisable to have wide doorways throughout the house so that the wheelchair can be accommodated.
• The bathroom will need to be rearranged to accommodate the wheelchair. Grab bars need to be installed near the toilet and the shower to provide stability. Tub would be replaced by a low-rise shower with no-step entry.
• Non-slip flooring needs to be installed through the house to prevent falls and all door handles need to be replaced by lever handles as they are easier to operate.
• Proper lighting needs to be provided throughout the house so there are no dark spots where a person can trip. Glare should be minimized in every part of the home and motion sensor lights need to be placed at critical places where a fall could be devastating to the health of an old person.
• All unnecessary items in the bedroom should be discarded, and furniture should be bolted to the wall to make sure that it doesn’t trip over. All cables and wires should be hidden from view. Just as in the bathroom, extra space needs to be provided in the kitchen for a wheelchair.
• The cabinets need to be lower with pullout shelves so everything can be accessed. The countertop needs to be lower so that a person using a wheelchair can use it safely and there should be a long single handle to grab in case of fall.
• Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer with comfortable long handles will allow a senior person to open it comfortably and safely. Slide out shelves are better than traditional ones.