Simple Home Modifications You Can Do Yourself for a Senior or Disabled Loved One
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Published on March 22, 2018
Whether you’re caring for a senior loved one with mobility issues or you’re caring for a child or other family member with a disability, adapting the home so it’s safe and comfortable for your loved one is important. While it makes sense to hire a contractor to take care of big home modifications, there are plenty of smaller home modifications that you can do on your own without a big time or monetary investment. Here’s a look at just a few of the simple home modifications that are simple enough for you to tackle by yourself.
Installing Lever-Style Door Handles and Faucets
Round doorknobs are often difficult to grab for aging adults who may have arthritis in their hands, and they can pose a problem for other individuals with disabilities. It’s simple to swap out your knob-style door handles for lever-style handles. They’re easy to find at a home improvement store and you’ll just need a few basic tools to install them. Adding lever-style handles to bathroom and kitchen faucets is also a great idea to make them easier to grasp. Once again, with a quick trip to a hardware store and a few simple tools, you can have these swapped out in no time.
Easily Lower Closet Bars
If you have a loved one who uses a wheelchair, high closet bars can be a problem. It’s easy to lower the closet bars by purchasing a new dowel cut to the right length for the closet and then buying some plastic closet rod supporters, which are usually only a couple dollars for a set. Another option is to buy closet extension bars, which suspend from the closet bar you already have in the closet. Towel hooks and towel bars in the bathroom are also easy to lower if they need to be lower to be more easily accessible.
Install a Handheld Shower Head
To make bathing easier in your current shower or tub, adding a handheld shower head in the bathroom can make a big difference. It can be used along with a shower chair to allow your loved one to bathe while sitting down, which is helpful for those who may have a tough time standing for longer periods. Simply detach your current showerhead and replace with the handheld shower head. Most can be used regularly or pull down to be used by hand so it’s convenient for everyone. Depending on the features of the shower head, you can find a handheld shower head ranging from $20 to $140 in price.
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Visibility throughout the home is important for elderly family members of disabled loved ones. Survey your home to determine where visibility needs to be improved. You can easily install under-cabinet task lighting in kitchens, motion sensor lights outside the main exits, motion sensor lights for bathrooms, or nightlights for hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms. Light tape or stick-on lights can be excellent additions to stairs, along pathways, or other areas of the home that need to be lit up at night. New light switches, baseboard lighting, or even new light switches that are easier to turn off and on are easy projects and very helpful.
Raising Toilet Seat Height
Getting up and down from the toilet safely is one of the most frustrating issues aging seniors face. Elevating the toilet seat makes this safer and easier. Adding a portable raised toilet seat can be an easy solution to this problem. However, it’s also easy to install other types of raised toilet seats, such as bubble type raised seats, adjustable height seats, and raised seats with adjustment knobs.
Install Grab Bars
Falls are very common in the bathroom, but they can often be prevented by adding grab bars around the toilet, shower, or bathtub in your bathroom. Many types of grab bars are fairly easy to install on your own. However, you do need to remember that grab bars that will hold a person’s weight must be secured attached to studs in the walls, otherwise supporting someone’s weight could rip the bars right out of the wall if they’re not secured properly.
Adding Non-Slip Tape, Bathmats, or Rugs in the Bathroom
The presence of water can make the bathroom a slippery place, and there’s a big risk of slips and falls in this room. You can easily reduce this risk by adding non-slip tape or bathmats inside your tub or shower. Non-slip tape can also go on the bathroom floor or you can add non-slip rugs to the bathroom to prevent falls, as long as they are secured to the floor so they don’t create a tripping hazard.
Securing Area Rugs with Non-Slip Grips
Area rugs can pose a serious hazard to seniors and those with disabilities. If the rug moves or bunches up, it can easily trip up your loved one and cause a fall. The good news is that it’s easy to fix this problem by securing your area rugs with non-slip grips. Checking to make sure carpets and rugs have no holes or tears can also help prevent falls and improve safety. Remove other trip hazards around the home, such as cords and clutter that is spilling into walkways.
Lower the Water Temperature on the Hot Water Heater
Hot water has the potential to result in serious burn injuries, and you can lower the risk of a loved one being accidentally scalded by lowering the temperature on your hot water. Many hot water heaters are set on 140-degrees, and it’s better to lower that temperature to 120-degrees to improve safety. Check your water heater owner’s manual for instructions on how you can turn down the temperature on the hot water heater or visit Energy.gov of helpful, step-by-step instructions.
You don’t have to hire a professional and spend a lot of money to take care of many home modifications that can make life easier for elderly loved ones or family members with a disability. With a small monetary investment and a bit of work on your part, you can quickly make your home a safer place. Of course, while you can take care of many home modifications on your own, for larger projects like building wheelchair ramps or widening doorways, you may need professional help. If you’d like advice on projects you can do yourself or you’re ready to make major home modifications that require a professional, call HandyWorkx today at (610) 518-2221 and we’ll be happy to help you make your home a safer and more comfortable place.