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Danger Zones and Safety Modifications for Aging Adults Living Alone

Your aging parent wants to live alone and remain independent. However, each room of your parent’s home includes danger zones or areas that can increase accident risk. Understand the major danger zones in your parent’s home and behavior as well as safety modifications you and your parent can make to ensure your loved one remains safe and independent at home.

  1. Kitchen
  2. Living Room
  3. Bedroom
  4. Bathroom
  5. Doorways and Hallways
  6. Porch, Curb and Exterior

Kitchen

One of the most used rooms in a house, the kitchen also features numerous dangers. It may be inaccessible for a wheelchair user or include potential fire hazards.
Improve safety and give your parent a functional space to prepare meals when you:

  • Lower the stove to 28 inches.
  • Select an oven with push-button controls on the front.
  • Hang a mirror above the stove to watch cooking food and prevent boil overs.
  • Create under-counter wheelchair space of at least 30 inches wide and 19 inches deep.
  • Utilize rolling carts, lazy Susans and other accessible storage options.
  • Store heavy object closer to the ground.
  • Place a working fire extinguisher within easy reach.
  • Install nonskid flooring and remove area rugs.
  • Select a shallow sink with a flexible spray hose.
  • Replace table runners and tablecloths with placemats to prevent trips and falls.

Living Room

Your loved one may watch TV, read books and socialize with friends in the living room. This area may contain clutter, shag carpet or sharp-edged furniture that can harm your parent, though.
Consider several modifications that improve safety and functionality in the living room.

  • Tuck electrical wires behind furniture or along baseboards.
  • Remove clutter to maximize space and reduce fire hazards.
  • Rearrange furniture to provide a 36-inch wide space for improved mobility.
  • Replace shag carpet with a low-pile option, laminate or tile.
  • Add extra lighting, particularly near reading or craft areas.
  • Use a grab tool to pick up dropped items.

Bedroom

Ideally, the bedroom will provide your parent with a comfortable space to sleep and get dressed. Excess furniture, piles of clothing and other hazards can make this room dangerous, though.
Reassess the bedroom’s layout and remove dangers as you create a safe haven for your parent.

  • Pad sharp bed, dresser and table corners.
  • Remove unused furniture to improve wheelchair maneuverability.
  • Lower the bed height if necessary.
  • Install a grab bar near the bed, and use bed rails if necessary.
  • Hem or remove long bed skirts or comforters to reduce trip and fall risks.
  • Place an amplified phone near the bed for access to emergency personnel.
  • Plug in a motion sensitive night light near the bathroom door.
  • Boost visibility with extra lighting in the closet, near the bed and by the dressing table.
  • Improve storage accessibility for clothing and other items.
  • Replace shag carpet with a safer low-pile or another smooth flooring alternative.
  • Utilize D levers or handles rather than knobs on dressers and doors.

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Bathroom

In the bathroom, your parent can take care of hygiene needs. Many bathrooms include slippery surfaces, though, are not accessible and can inhibit safe navigation.
A few tweaks and modifications improve safety in the bathroom, particularly if your parent uses the supportive adaptations.

  • Install nonslip flooring, including tub mats.
  • Secure grab bars near the toilet and shower.
  • Utilize a shower bench, shower chair or transfer seat.
  • Select a traditional sink with one that allows wheelchair access.
  • Adjust the cabinet height for easy access.
  • Install sensor or lever faucets, toilet flush extensions and toilet paper clamps.
  • Add an elevated toilet seat.

Doorways and Hallways

Narrow doorways and hallways can inhibit your parent’s ability to access parts of their home. Clutter on the floor or walls can also affect your loved one’s safety.
Enhance accessibility and safety when you modify doorways and hallways.

  • Replace shag carpet with a low-pile or flat option.
  • Discard area rugs.
  • Clear any clutter from the floor.
  • Hang photos or decorations on the wall above the wheelchair path.
  • Improve lighting with a light switch at both ends of a hallway.
  • Replace door knobs with D handles or levers.
  • Smooth or lower thresholds between rooms.
  • Remove doors if privacy is not an issue.
  • Install swinging doors to widen the doorway.
  • Select a front door with a low peephole to improve visibility and safety.

Porch, Curb and Exterior

In addition to the inside of your parent’s home, address dangers on the porch, curb and exterior. Several hazards can affect visibility and home access for your parent, visitors and emergency personnel.
Ideally, you will make modifications that improve access to the home and deter thieves.

  • Enhance lighting in the parking area, walkway and front porch or entry.
  • Trim bushes or shrubs that could conceal a burglar near the door or windows.
  • Install a reflective address sign that’s visible from the street.
  • Repair driveway or sidewalk cracks that could hinder a wheelchair or walker.
  • Build a ramp or flat threshold.
  • Remove clutter from the front porch, including seasonal furniture.

To support your parent’s desire to age in place, address danger zones throughout the house. Numerous home modifications can improve safety, and your parent can make behavior changes that enhance the quality of life. For assistance creating a safe home environment, contact us. We will assist you and your parent in identifying dangers and selecting modifications that maximize the space, improve accessibility and ensure safety.

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Get in touch with our home modification specialists specialists today to schedule a free in-home consult. We can walk you through what changes to make for your aging parent!

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