In part 1 of our Aging in Place serier, we discussed the preliminary steps to take when creating a safer home for parents that wish to stay in place as they age. However, mobility issues may make it necessary to remodel the home to accommodate a walker, wheelchair or electric scooter.
Here are some things to keep in mind when beginning a home conversion.
Wheelchairs and scooters need more space to maneuver. Interior walls and doorways need to be widened to at least 32” as a minimum, with 36” as an ideal. This allows for access for even the widest wheelchairs and foot traffic. A heavily trafficked kitchen sink may need to be renovated to accommodate mobility equipment. Roll-under sinks can be installed for wheelchairs, and standard stools can fit in the space, too. Lever door handles and slide-out drawers make it easier for wheelchair or scooter occupants to reach other rooms, appliances and kitchen tools, too.
Potentially slick spaces need safety equipment. According to the CDC, each year 2.5 million seniors are treated in emergency rooms for injuries that occur due to falling in the home. To play it safe, bathrooms need to have grab bars installed in showers and baths. Carpets or rugs with loose corners need to be replaced. All flooring needs to be clutter-free (no area rugs) to prevent seniors from tripping. If hardwoods or tile floors cause slips, consider covering them with low-pile carpeting or anti-slip applications. A good contractor will be able to help you with option.
Lighting is important. Low lighting is hard on the eyes and can increase the danger of slips and falls. Add brighter lights in the kitchen, closets and baths. Concentrated task lighting may be necessary, but all rooms need to be well-lit. Light fixtures need to be easily and readily accessible any time someone enters a room. Rocker switches are easier for people in wheelchairs and walkers to operate.
The ultimate protection for aging parents may be a medical alert system from EMC Security. To find out more about ways your loved ones can get help 24/7, visit our website or call us at 770-963-0305.