02.15.10

Home Modifications For The Elderly

Posted in Home Health Care at 11:30 am by admin

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Home Modifications

So you’ve decided to care for your loved one at home instead of a Texas elder care facility, but you may be concerned about how to make it work. Will he be able to navigate our home safely? What if I can’t help him get into bed or in and out of the shower? Home modifications, simple or complex, depending on your loved one’s physical limitations or medical needs, may be the ticket to keeping him at home longer, providing a safe environment, and maintaining maximum independence and dignity. 

 

Making modifications to your home may sound overwhelming and expensive, but may be as simple as rearranging the furniture, removing loose rugs, and installing night lights between bedroom and bathroom. These simple changes could go a long way to prevent a potentially dangerous fall. 

 

The following tips and checklists will help you take stock of your home, your loved one’s needs, and sort through needed modifications:

 

Consider your loved one’s mobility issues, visual or physical limitations and challenges in everyday functions in your home. Does he need assistance getting out of bed? Is he having difficulty navigating your current furniture arrangement? If he reaches out to steady himself, will he have something sturdy to grab? Is he making trips to the bathroom at night? Simply tracking these kinds of things and other potential challenges for a day can be tremendously helpful in identifying and prioritizing necessary home modifications. Allowing your loved one to be a part of this process will help you identify problems  and challenges you might overlook.

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Here’s a checklist to get you and your loved one started on identifying his or her physical challenges in the home:
  • Do you need assistance getting into or out of bed?
  • Are you able to navigate getting to the bathroom during the night?
  • Do you feel comfortable getting up and down from the toilet?
  • Are faucets easy to turn on and off?
  • Do you feel comfortable in getting in and out of the shower or bathtub?
  • Do you have visual limitations or depth perception difficulties?
  • Are all areas of the home appropriately lighted?
  • Do you have difficulties with self-feeding?
  • Are things you need arranged within your reach?
  • Are windows, doors, cabinets easy for you to open and shut?
  • Are light switches within easy reach?
  • Are all rooms easily accessible?
  • Is the phone in easy reach and at an appropriate volume?
  • Are stairs easy and safe to navigate?
  • Are all entrances easy to navigate?
  • Is the furniture arranged to provide clear pathways and support as needed?
  • Are outside pathways smooth and easy to navigate?
Complete a simple safety check of your home. Make careful observations as you walk through the house room by room during both daylight and nighttime hours. 
  1. a.  Check for adequate lighting in all rooms, outdoor walkways, and hallways. Note any extra lighting needed: night light, noise-response lighting (the Clapper), brighter bulb, new lighting installation, or motion sensor lights
  2. b.  Make note of any changes needed to provide clear pathways, safe and easy access, and balance supports especially for outdoor walkways, entrances, hallways, and stairways: rearrange furniture, remove obstructions or loose rugs, provide additional seating, install non-slip surface, mark level changes with colored or reflective tape, add handrails, install ramp or stair lift
  3. c. Evaluate each room for functionality, potential hazards, or physical obstacles. Consider appropriate solutions.
bedroom getting in and out of bed – bed risers, grab bars, side rails,  Hoyer lift (manual or hydraulic), adjustable hospital-style bed

 

accessing closet  - reachable storage, clothing rods, shoe hangers, accessory organizers

 

accessing dresser  – easy open drawers

 

getting to the bathroom – portable commode

 

keeping things accessible from bed  - hospital-style bedside table (can be raised or lowered, wheeled, or locked), book rack

 

independent dressing  – long handled shoe horn, button hook, velcro to replace buttons, extra seating

 

bathroom getting in and out of the shower – grab bars, non-slip mat, shower chair, walk-in shower and bath tub

 

using faucets – set water heater temperature to a maximum of 120 degrees to prevent accidental scalding, replace hard to turn faucet controls with more manageable handles.

 

sitting down and getting up from the toilet – raised toilet seat, grab bar

 

stairs potential fall hazard - make sure stairs are wide enough for foot and not too steep

 

mark edges of steps with bright tape or reflective strips position railing on both sides use safety gate at top of stairs install stair lift.

 

Kitchen 

accessibility – check for well marked appliances (stove settings), place commonly used items in easy to reach cupboards, install easy open drawers, purchase or make your own modified utensils (wrapped in foam for better grip), sturdy arm chair

 

Living Room

clear path - rearrange furniture, remove fragile items, and unsteady furniture
close, organized storage solutions – sturdy stand with place for remote, magazines, books, drinks, etc.
 
Additional wheel chair modifications:
  • ramps
  • lifts
  • smooth pathways
  • wide doorways
  • wide hallways 
  • electric door opener
  • table, counters, sinks, adjusted to appropriate height
Other handy accommodations:
  • reach extender
  • walker
  • cane
  • walking stick

 

Some of these home modifications may be accomplished with a quick trip to Walmart or Lowe’s. For other medical equipment needs, check out Edge Medical Supply located at 1331 S Beckham Ave. in Tyler. Used medical supplies such as walkers may also be located in local thrift stores or on Craig’s List. Other more elaborate home modifications may require a friend or even a contractor to help you install them. 

Financial Assistance

Always check with your insurance to find out what equipment and modifications they will cover. For installation or construction not covered by insurance, check with local non-profit volunteer organizations such as Faith in Action or Habitat for Humanity. Many of these organizations have developed relationships within the community with contractors, builders, and handymen, or have other qualified volunteers to help with such needs.

 

Jack Wilson, COO
Habitat for Humanity of Smith County, Inc.
822 W. Front Street
Tyler, TX 75702
coo@smithcountyhabitat.org 


 

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For more information on assistance for home repair or modifications for the elderly please contact 
The Area Agency on Aging of East Texas 
3800 Stone Rd
Kilgore, TX 75662


 

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or online www.etcog.org

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