Aging-in-Place

Home Safe Homes Helps Improve Home Safety for the Sandwich Generation

Are you struggling to take care of mom and dad…AND your children?

Home Safe Homes helps people in the sandwich generation* care for both their parents and their children and keep them safe. We offer a variety of services in Child Safety and Accessibility Remodeling.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, we will be posting blogs on how Home Safe Homes can help put Sandwich Generationers’ minds at ease. This week’s blog concentrates the ways we are able to help you improve your parents’ independence in the home through accessibility remodeling, starting with bathroom safety and accessibility

Bathroom Safety

The CDC reported that 81 percent of injuries experienced by those 65 and older were caused by falls and that one of the most common environments, where falls occur, is in the bathroom. Over one-third of older individuals require hospitalization following a bathroom incident. “Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.” (“Home and Recreational Safety” 2017)

Consider these safety tips to reduce falls in the bathroom:

  • Ensure shower doors are made of safety glass or replace with a shower curtain.
  • Take extra care when on a wet surface. Slip-resistant flooring is recommended for bathrooms, such as paint-on applications or self-adhesive non-slip strips.
  • Grab bars are recommended in all positions around the bath and toilet. Never use a towel rail to support body weight.
  • Hand-held shower hoses are a good idea, as are shower chairs or bath seats when mobility or balance is in question.

Home Safe Homes strives to help prevent falls in the bathroom and to increase bathroom safety. Whether it is due to aging, illness or disability, when bathrooms need to be modified to reduce barriers for the safety and comfort of those at home — Home Safe Homes can help. Our professionals can advise you on grab bars and other equipment to modify your bathroom to ensure maximum safety and independence.

It is not uncommon for individuals to need help getting in and out of the tub or shower. One of the simplest and most inexpensive ways that Home Safe Homes is able to aide in increasing bathroom safety is through the installation of grab bars. Home Safe Homes keeps stainless steel, concealed screw grab bars in stock, and carry them on our truck. This means that it is possible for our team member to install grab bars the same day that they do a home safety evaluation.

In addition to grab bar installation, we also offer barrier free shower systems. The barrier-free showers that Home Safe Homes install are Best Bath brand. Barrier-free showers allow for easier entry and exit of the shower, especially for those who have difficulty lifting their foot over the lip of standard showers. Barrier-free showers also make it possible for wheelchairs to roll into and out of the shower, and transferring from a wheelchair to shower bench safer and more efficient. We are proud to partner with Best Bath and be able to install their wide array of barrier-free shower options.

For consultation, contact Home Safe Homes today.

 

* The sandwich generation is a generation of people, typically in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their own children and for the care of their aging parents.

Sources:

“Home Assessments | Indianapolis, IN.” Home Safe Homes, Home Safe Homes, 2018, homesafehomes.com/services/#bathroom-modifications.

“Home and Recreational Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Feb. 2017, www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html.

Improving Home Safety for Individuals with Visual Impairments

Vision loss occurs gradually as we age. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that the leading cause of vision loss is Cataracts. Cataracts affect half of the individuals who are 75 years or older. More accidents happen inside the home than anywhere else, even for individuals who are not blind or otherwise visually impaired. Consequently, it’s imperative that everyone develops and maintains strong safety habits in and around the home. For those who are starting to experience vision loss, this is especially true.

There are many practical and inexpensive ways of making a home safer for individuals with visual impairment.

Lighting and Glare Reduction

  • Make sure their home is well lit, with high-wattage light bulbs and additional lamps or task lighting.
    • The kitchen, bathroom and work areas all should be fully and evenly illuminated.
  • Under-counter lighting is another type that works well for illuminating the kitchen and other larger work areas.
  • Different qualities of light (more white or yellow, for example) might make it easier to see depending on the type of vision loss someone lives with.
    • It is beneficial to determine which types of bulbs produce the best kind of lighting to help your loved one see most clearly.
  • Consider adding gooseneck or clip-on lights to provide adjustable lighting options in work areas
  • Keeping lights on during daytime hours helps to equalize lighting from both indoor and outdoor sources.

Reduce Fall Risks

  • Eliminate small throw rugs
  • Keep electrical cords as close to the baseboards as possible and out of walkways.
  • Keep floor lamps and small items such as low tables, magazine racks, and plants out of walkways.
  • Clean up spills immediately. If you forget the spill is there, it could become a slipping hazard.
  • Make sure your bath mat has a non-skid backing.

Think Bigger

  • Look for items that come with larger buttons and print
    • These items include books, clocks, calendars, checkbooks, remote controls and much more
  • Magnifiers come in handy for items that do not come in large print
    • Some magnifiers to consider are:
  • Create a list of important phone numbers in large print on bold-lined paper. Include doctors, transportation, and emergency contacts, and put the list in a convenient place.
  • Clearly, mark stove dials and label all medications.
  • Label cleaning and toxic products to make them easily identifiable, and store them and any flammable or combustible items away from the kitchen or heating units.

Contrasting Colors are Key

For people with low vision, it is often difficult to find doorways, outlets, furniture, and stairs

  • Choose outlet covers whose colors contrast with the color of the wall
  • Select towels with colors that contrast with the bathroom wall and kitchen cabinets or stove
  • Cups, plates, bowls, and utensils of a color that contrasts with the table and countertop aids in food preparation and dining
  • Utilize cutting boards whose color contrasts with the food item
    • Dark cutting boards for light foods like onions and cheese
    • Light cutting boards for dark foods like tomatoes and apples
  • Pick area rugs that have a solid color
    • Patterns can make it difficult for the visually impaired to identify edges
  • Mark stairs or slopes with brightly colored tape.
    • Eye-catching colors that contrast with the flooring work best.
  • Suggest purchasing a large-screen television that produces high-contrast images.
  • Use brightly colored, fluorescent tape to mark the settings you typically use on your thermostat.

Organization

  • Remove unnecessary household clutter.
    • Offer to help with organizing important items and packing up others.
  • Organize cupboards and specify exact locations for important things.
    • If the cereal is always on the middle shelf of the pantry, for example, your loved one will not need to strain to try to determine if it is cereal or something else.
  • Set up consistent places for mail, keys, and other important items.
  • Use markers to print large labels for such everyday items as cleaning or cooking supplies
    • Be sure to keep cleaning supplies separate from food storage areas

Routine Eye Exams

Routine eye exams are essential to make sure you are wearing the best vision correction possible.

 

Sources

Bursack, Carol Bradley. “How to Make Life Easier and Safer for Seniors with Low Vision.” Legal Documents To Make Healthcare Decisions for Elderly Parents – AgingCare.com, Aging Care, 3 May 2018, www.agingcare.com/articles/making-life-easier-for-older-adults-with-low-vision-111675.htm.

Heiting, Gary, and Marilyn Haddrill. “Tips for Coping With Vision Loss.” All About Vision, June 2017, www.allaboutvision.com/over60/living-challenges.htm#top.

Nesburn, Anthony B, and Judith Delgado. “Vision Loss and Blindness.” Selected Long-Term Care Statistics | Family Caregiver Alliance, Family Caregiver Alliance, 2008, www.caregiver.org/vision-loss-and-blindness.

“Safety in the Home.” Continue Painting with Vision Loss – VisionAware, American Foundation for the Blind, 2018, www.visionaware.org/info/everyday-living/home-modification-/safety-in-the-home/123.

Misconception #4: Aging in Place is Only Practical in the Suburbs

According to a survey completed by HomeAdviser, sixty-five percent of homeowners who are over the age of 55 say the physical layout of their home will be appropriate as they age. However, approximately two thirds of those living in rural or suburban homes are more apt to believe this than those who live in urban homes (50 percent). Similarly, urban homeowners are more likely than rural and suburban homeowners to have completed or considered an aging-in-place renovation. Only 21 percent of rural or suburban homeowners have previously completed an aging-in-place renovation and 34 percent of them have never contemplated one, compared to the 31 percent and 15 percent, respectively, among homeowners in urban areas. Collectively, these data suggest a common belief that it’s easier to age in place in rural and suburban homes than in urban homes.

Reality: Cities Have Unique Aging-in-Place Advantages

It may be easier to modify rural and suburban homes for aging-in-place purposes, but this does not automatically make them more appropriate for older adults. In fact, the AARP Public Policy Institute released a new, first-of-its-kind tool stressing the importance of the social aspects of aging in place in 2015. The tool is called the AARP Livability Index. This index makes it possible for people of any age to figure out—at the neighborhood level—how well their community is set up to meet their future and current needs based on a wide variety of metrics, including housing, but also health, environment and transportation, amid others. Thanks to their increased social opportunities, superior neighborhood walkability and better public transit the livability score of urban communities is often higher than those of rural and suburban societies.

“In 2008, for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population lived in cities and by 2030 approximately three out of every five people will live in urban areas” (McIlwain 2011). The percentage of the world’s population over the age of sixty is more than eleven percent today and by 2020 will surpass twenty percent. Due to these statistics, the World Health Organization made the “Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities” which assesses eight characteristics of urban life that make cities more age-friendly. The eight components are:

  • Transportation
  • Respect and social inclusion;
  • Social involvement;
  • Housing
  • Outdoor spaces and buildings;
  • Communication and information;
  • Civic involvement and employment;
  • Community support and health services.

For each of these topics, a set of parameters was produced and issued in “Global Age Friendly Cities: A Guide” in addition to a checklist. Entries on the list range from the specific, such as having sufficient seating in outdoor parks, to the very general, such as having adequate inexpensive housing in safe locations close to the rest of the community and to service . Membership in the network expresses a pledge by the city to apply these guidelines and work to increase its age-friendliness. While it may be commonly believed that urban homes are less suited to aging-in-place, this is certainly not the case.

Sources:

“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor.” Home Improvement Tips & Advice from HomeAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Inc., 30 Aug. 2017, www.homeadvisor.com/r/2016-aging-in-place-report/.

McIlwain, John. “Suburbs, Cities, and Aging in Place.” Urban Land Magazine, Urban Land Institute, 17 Aug. 2011, urbanland.uli.org/economy-markets-trends/suburbs-cities-and-aging-in-place/.

Misconception #3: Smart Home Technology is Simply for Convenience

Though the majority of homeowners over age 55 (67 percent) think that as they age it could be helpful, only 19 percent say they have contemplated investing in smart-home technology for that reason. This is likely because technology is still often seen as a luxury convenience rather than a sensible necessity. In fact, homeowners who haven’t considered smart-home technology to assist them with aging in place say that the most common reasons are: that they either didn’t need or are not interested in such technology (45 percent), that it is too expensive to buy (29 percent) and that it’s too expensive to install (25 percent).

Reality: Smart Home Technology Supports Independence

While smart home technology is frequently considered to be nothing more than a luxury convenience, these technologies can help aid in the process of aging in place and also increase the livability of the space for people of any age. For example, a smart refrigerator that automatically senses when groceries run low and is able to order new ones when needed. This single appliance that creates convenience for a young family can ensure that a homebound senior receives nourishment consistently.

It isn’t surprising that older adults are less likely to adopt smart home technology than young adults who are more familiar with it. This paired with the fact that smart home technologies are still coming into existence means that they are still expensive, which can make older homeowners even less likely to invest in them. Luckily, as time goes on prices will drop and the so-called “digital divide” will close.

 

Sources:

“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes.” Aging in Place Home Design & Build for Thriving in Place, Design Tech Homes, 2017, www.dth.com/our-learning-center/homeowner-tips/aging-in-place-home-design-features-for-thriving-in-place.

“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor.” Home Improvement Tips & Advice from HomeAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Inc., 30 Aug. 2017, www.homeadvisor.com/r/2016-aging-in-place-report/.

Misconception #2: Aging in Place is About Aging

Approximately 2/3 of homeowners age 55 or older report that they feel they are proactive when it comes to making aging-in-place home modifications. Nearly 90% say that they are familiar with aging-in-place renovations, additions, or products.

However, home modification professionals tell a different story. For example, over half of the experts that HomeAdvisor surveyed say that less than 10% of the projects that they are hired for are related to aging-in-place. Only about 20% of home modification professionals said that their clients reach out to them preemptively, before they are in immediate need of aging-in-place renovations. Most specialists stated that the majority of homeowners in need of such modifications sought them out reactively for a number of reasons.

The most common time that home owners hired home modification professionals for aging in place overhauls was after they or one of their loved ones acquired a worsening condition that over time will limit their independence (33 percent). The second most common time came as the result of a major medical incident or recent (25 percent), or because they are worried about a minor medical incident or fall that they experienced recently (19 percent).

In conclusion, the main reasons that home modification professionals were hired for aging-in-place are safety and accessibility, with only a small portion of the projects being done to allow for ease-of-living. While many homeowners want to be proactive about aging-in-place, most are held back by the misunderstanding that this will “senior-proof” their home prematurely.

Reality: Aging in Place is About Livability

The main purpose of aging-in-place projects is to make the homes more safe and accessible. “Aging in place isn’t about special add-on features that will only help you once you’ve fallen and incurred a disability,” says Rodney Harrell, Ph.D., director of Livable Communities at AARP’s Public Policy Institute. “It’s about making functional home improvements that make spaces more useful and more usable for anyone, anytime.” (“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes” 2017)

In reality, countless popular aging-in-place enhancements— such as zero-step entrances, wider doorways, open floor plans, and motion-sensor lights— not only make the home safer, but can also increase the quality of life in a home. Such improvements often go undetected, but have the potential to be equally beneficial to homeowners in their thirties and forties as they are to those who are in their seventies and eighties.

“Aging in Place Home Design: Features for “Thriving in Place” – Design Tech Homes.” Aging in Place Home Design & Build for Thriving in Place, Design Tech Homes, 2017, www.dth.com/our-learning-center/homeowner-tips/aging-in-place-home-design-features-for-thriving-in-place.

“Aging in Place Report 2016 | HomeAdvisor.” Home Improvement Tips & Advice from HomeAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, Inc., 30 Aug. 2017, www.homeadvisor.com/r/2016-aging-in-place-report/.