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Tips for Making Your Home Senior Accessible

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As of 2016, 49.2 million U.S. citizens were 65 or older, accounting for 15.2 percent of the population. Consequently, more families are having to decide what steps to take to make their or their parents’ homes more senior friendly. Living in a house that hasn’t been updated for senior residents may cause someone who’s older to fall, which is more serious than we often realize. Research has shown that 4.5 percent of adults 70 or older died following a ground-level fall, compared to 1.5 percent of their younger counterparts. So if you’re a senior, make sure to modify your home to prevent any injuries. Here are some tips to start.

The Hazards of Home

Once you reach a certain age, any number of your home’s features may cause you to slip. Potential hazards include clutter, steep staircases, poor lighting — dark or glaring — or throw rugs (which rumple easily and trip people). Rickety chairs, low toilet seats, and cracks threaded through the driveway are also suspect. Even a beloved pet like a black lab standing on his hindquarters and throwing his paws over your shoulders, or a tabby weaving between your ankles, might cause you to stumble. Painful as it is, you may need to consider giving your dog or cat to a friend or one of your children and then focus on eliminating the other dangers.

Buying a Senior-Accessible Home

In this situation, you basically have two options: Buy a new home or make upgrades to where you live. Let’s say you decide to get a new home. First, research senior-accessible housing in your area. It’s recommended that you look for homes with these amenities:

  • A no-step front entry
  • Plenty of lighting everywhere (Angie’s List explains, “Make sure hallways are lit with automatic night lights, which will assist in navigating your home in the dark”)
  • Doors and hallways at least 36 inches wide
  • Walk-in shower with seats and grab bars

Another option is to downsize. Swap out your home for a condo. Many senior citizens find that they like joining a retirement community because they meet new friends. Also, when the plumbing goes out, they just call maintenance, instead of having to fix the problem themselves or pay for a professional.

A heads-up, though: The price of a condo fluctuates depending on where you live. Since the median home price across the U.S. is $200,000, a condo may not sound like a bargain.

Home Modifications

Now, if you’re interested in staying put, make sure that your house has these accessibility features:

  • Entrances have exterior lighting.
  • A peephole in the doors to let you see whoever’s knocking.
  • Non-slip mats on the bedroom floor to keep you from falling.
  • Rather than turn-style handles, the kitchen sink should have a touch-style faucet.
  • The controls for the stove should be at the front of the cooktop so that you don’t need to reach your hand near the flames.
  • The pipes beneath the bathroom sink should be insulated, preventing you from burning your hand touching them.

Consult the full list of these modifications and choose whichever ones apply to the blueprint around you.

Our senior years can be some of life’s most rewarding times. We get to see our children and grandchildren grow up. Watching your house turn into the family hearth is a pleasure. Just make sure that it fits all of your needs so that you feel truly secure in your own home.

Image via Pixabay

How to Get our Best Sleep in Your Senior Years

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It is recommended that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. As we age, those hours become even more important as our body needs a longer time to repair and regenerate itself from the damage our weakening muscles and joints receive. In addition, sleep helps to organize, process, and manage things such as memory, thoughts, emotions, and a variety of other mental functions that often deteriorate as we grow older.

Trying to get sleep in our senior years can be difficult as you may be managing chronic pain, sleep disruptions, and a broad degree of issues ranging from mental to physical ailments.

So, how do you get the best sleep you can as a senior? Here are a few tips!

Try to exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to ensure sound sleep when we go to bed. For starters, exercise helps reduce stress by producing endorphins which help up maintain energy during the day but also may contribute to melatonin production at night. In addition, it is thought that the heat generated from exercise and the subsequent body temperature decrease is conducive to preparing your body for sleep.

Take time to calm down

For many people, going to bed is as simple as brushing our teeth and laying down to watch a couple of hours of television. However, a bedtime calming routine can help ease you into sleep and alert your body that it is time. A routine may start with a warm bath or shower, reading, meditation, and then lights out. The goal is to gently slow your body with each new activity leading into bed.

Try out a memory foam mattress

You may be surprised that a lot of people don’t give much thought to their mattress. However, your mattress is where you will spend at least 30% of your life, so it’s a decision you shouldn’t take lightly. A memory foam mattress prevents sagging, is easier to get in and out of bed, and is a good choice for anyone suffering from arthritis or chronic pain. A memory foam mattress contours to a person’s body to provide support while relieving painful tension.

Avoid late-afternoon naps

As we age afternoon naps become more common. However, one thing to be careful of is that our bodies become adjusted to going to bed earlier and sleeping later. That’s a good thing, right? However, one way to ruin that good thing is to take a late afternoon nap which may leave you too awake to go to bed at your normal time or even a reasonable time.

Drink less fluid as you get closer to bedtime

Each person is a little different when it comes to how much water (or fluids) they can drink. The fact is that as we age it is more difficult to control the frequency of our bathroom breaks. Slowly decreasing the amount of fluid, you are taking in as your day wears down will help to eliminate those late-night bathroom breaks that are prone to revitalizing your wakefulness.

As we age it becomes even more important to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. While sleep may sometimes feel that it comes at a premium keep in mind that with exercise, a bedtime routine, and a memory foam mattress you are putting yourself in a good spot for a perfect slumber.

Submitted By: Krista Harper

5 Design Tips for Aging in Place

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As the Baby Boomers continue to age, the number of older people in the United States is on track to surpass the number of children for the first time in history. As this generation ages, they may find themselves facing the challenges that come along with getting older while also trying to maintain as much independence as possible.

For many people, part of that independence means continuing to live at home. Although staying at home provides an unmatched level of comfort, it can also require some adjusting if you’re not able to get around as easily as you once were. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make your home easier to navigate.

1. Move Your Bedroom to the Main Level

As you age, you may find it more difficult to go up and down flights of stairs. Moving your bedroom to the main level of your home can help eliminate the need to climb stairs as often. Not only does this mean less wear and tear on your body, but it also lessens the potential for accidents and injuries.

2. Replace the Tub with a Walk-in Shower

Stepping in and out of a traditional bathtub can be tough as you get older. If you can, replacing your tub with a walk-in shower could provide a much safer alternative. If this option isn’t feasible, there are things you can do to make your current bathtub safer. According to House Method, installing handrails can help you maintain your balance when getting into the tub. You may also want to think about getting a shower chair so you can sit safely and comfortably as you bathe.

3. Keep Things in the Kitchen as Low as Possible

You probably spend a good amount of time in your kitchen, so it’s important that this space continues to be as functional as possible. Instead of high cabinets, start using lower shelves and drawers to store items. If you have a microwave attached below a cabinet, switch it to a countertop model. You could also invest in a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer combo to help you avoid having to constantly bend over.

4. Install Ramps Where Necessary

The small flight of stairs in between your front door and the driveway may not have seemed like a big deal when you first moved into your home, but as you age, these steps can become a hassle. If there are places in and outside of your home where you have to climb stairs, you may want to think of installing ramps to make moving around a little easier.

5. Remove Rugs

You may feel that the rugs around your home are great accessories, but they can also be major tripping and slipping hazards—this is especially true for small throw rugs. If possible, remove these rugs from your home to avoid potential accidents. If you’d prefer to keep them, you should invest in some non-slip backing.

Getting older doesn’t mean you can no longer enjoy the comforts of the home you worked so hard to have. If you plan to stay in your house during your golden years, these design tips will help you have a happy and safe experience.

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