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Living safely at home

Many seniors desire to remain in their homes where they are comfortable, secure and have created a lifetime of memories with family and friends.

Seniors are often confronted with making decisions about staying in their homes and maintaining their independence versus choosing to move to a place or facility that provides more care than can be received at home. While choosing to move does not always mean a loss of independence, many seniors want to stay at home if possible. When seniors choose to remain in their homes, various steps can be taken to ensure that the home continues to be safe, accessible and offers a great quality of life.

Open space is important for safety. Remove clutter, such as unnecessary rugs and furniture, to lessen the chance of tripping. Also, be sure that electric cords are placed outside of high traffic areas.

By age 75, most people require twice as much light as the recommended standard and nearly four times as much as a 20-year-old, so consider upgrading the lighting both inside and outside.

If possible, create a first-floor living space. If the home is two stories, consider adjusting the configuration so that one can live solely downstairs.

Locate often-used items so that they are always within easy reach. The more difficult an item is to reach, the greater the chance for injury.

Safety in the bathroom is a major concern. There are many modifications seniors can consider to reduce the risk of a fall and increase usability:

Add levered handles to doors and faucets. Opening doors and turning on faucets can be challenging when arthritis sets in.

Install an elevated toilet seat. This makes the process of getting up and down easier.

Replace the bathtub with a walk-in shower or walk-in tub for easier entry. Adding a safety bar and a chair to the tub or shower, as well as traction slips to the bathroom floor, will also help prevent slips and falls.

If there is ceramic tile in the bathroom, consider replacing it. Ceramic tile is cold, hard and slippery when wet. And it can really cause injury in the event of a fall.

Install a hand-held shower head. This will make it easier to bathe while seated or for seniors with limited mobility.

Many of these home modifications can be done with the help of a local handyman or other professionals who offer cleaning, decluttering and home organization solutions. Also, many areas have local organizations that offer help to seniors. To learn more about additional resources available to seniors and their loved ones, go to  www.servicelink.nh.gov

Being able to remain independent can greatly improve a senior’s outlook. A well-designed living arrangement is paramount to ensuring the safety and independence of seniors.

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