Oct 23

Evaluation: Home Modifications

by Alice Miller

Nursing homes and assisted living options are becoming less and less like the stereotype of rigidity of the past.  However, nine out of 10 seniors want to stay in their own homes as long as possible despite fall risks, according to AARP.

Have a conversation about long-term care options, but if seniors are determined to stay home, try to find the resources to enable them to do so, said Laura Booth, caregiver support coordinator at Adult Resource Alliance of Yellowstone County.

Most-used basic home health care options include someone to remind seniors to take medication, or do light cooking and cleaning, Booth said. Sometimes, an in-home care provider can supply transportation or card-playing company, she added.

Often, seniors feel like they are imposing if they ask family for help, Booth said. If a parent asks you for something, don’t make them feel bad for asking for help, she said. “Be willing to step up and do it.“

Schedule a therapist to do a home evaluation to identify hazards, suggested Mary Dalton, resource specialist program manager with Missoula Aging Services.

Minor home modifi cations can make a senior’s home livable longer, she said. For example, place risers under couch legs to lessen the effort of lowering oneself and raising oneself from it or add grab bars to the shower to lessen the risk of falling.

Don’t overlook nutritional needs, Dalton said. Use programs such as Meals on Wheels, or family and friends to maintain a healthy lifestyle, she said.

Ask these questions from Eldercare Locator when considering home modifications:
• Is the telephone handy in case of emergencies?
• Does the home have more than one floor or is it all on the same level?
• Do all hallways and stairs have smooth, safe surfaces?
• Would a ramp to replace outdoor/indoor steps be beneficial?
• Is lighting bright enough for safety?
• Are doorways wide enough for wheelchair and/or walker access?
• Are closet and pantry shelves too high?
• Is it easy to get in and out of the shower/bath tub?
• Is the household’s water temperature regulated to prevent scalding?

To prevent falls, Eldercare suggests:
• Check vision each year.
• Exercise to enhance balance and coordination.
• Choose shoes with non-slip soles.
• Place nightlights in high-traffi c areas.
• Place a lamp and telephone on bedside tables.
• Make sure each room is well lit.
• Remove obstacles, such as boxes, cords, plants and furniture, from high-traffic areas.
• Store clothing and other commonly used household items in easy-to-reach areas.
• Secure rugs and bath mats with tacks, non-skid pads or double-sided tape.
• Install non-slip strips in showers and bathtubs, and mount grab bars by the toilet, bath and shower.
• Repair holes and uneven joints on walkways.
• Install securely fastened handrails on both sides of all steps.

For more tips, visit www.eldercare.gov or call 1-800-551-3191 to be connected to your Area Agency on Aging.

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