Monday, February 11, 2013

Possible Options for Making a Safer Home: Part 1.

I AM OFFERING SOME OPTIONS THAT I FOUND IN A BOOK FROM 'AARP' (AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED PERSONS). THERE IS NO DATE ON IT, I COULD NOT FIND IT ON THEIR WEBSITE. THOUGH I FIND THE SUGGESTIONS WORTHWHILE (AND A CARPENTER DID DO SOME FOR MY MOM), I WILL ASK THAT, BEFORE DOING ANY OF THESE, YOU CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL CARPENTER, HOME IMPROVEMENT BUSINESS, BUILDING INSPECTOR, OR ANYONE FAMILIAR WITH CURRENT REMODELING/BUILDING THAT WHATEVER YOU DO IS TO CODE. I WILL NOT GIVE DIMENSIONS OR HEIGHTS OR ANY SPECS -- I AM JUST PASSING ON SUGGESTIONS.

Another book I came across from AARP is called 'THE DO-ABLE RENEWABLE HOME - MAKING YOUR HOME FIT YOUR NEEDS'. They start out by stating that 'according to most gerontologists, personal happiness in later life is the direct result of an individual's continued physical activity and involvement in everyday life'. I think we can all find someone we know, an elderly person, who wants to stay in his/her home for as long as possible, being independent. There may be things we can do in our home or parent's home to make things easier. If you or your parent lives in an apartment, there MAY (check with the landlord or your local housing agency) be a way to make changes, as long as you change them BACK to the way they were when moving out. I also think that many of these options also work with any disabled person, regardless of age.

Some people have mobility issues, some experience vision loss, others hearing loss. This first part will just go over some basic ideas to make things easier at home. I will get into detail at another time (have to read the book more!!). Most of these are pretty self-explanatory and evident.

* for those with mobility issues - relocate bedrooms or living spaces onto the same level; establish convenient storage areas; remove hazards on paths between commonly used rooms; store frequently used household items where they can be retrieved with a minimum of bending, reaching, lifting, & carrying; limit times going up & down the stairs.
* for those with vision issues - clearly mark (with white or reflecting tape) hazardous changes in floor levels; position furniture away from areas where you walk or move around most often; adjust illumination throughout the house by using higher wattage bulbs & distribute light evenly, avoid shiny surfaces to minimize glare; check the home's color scheme - yellows, oranges & reds are more easily distinguished; avoid using closely related colors together - use contrast colors between doorways & walls, dishes & tablecloths, the risers & flat surfaces of steps; keep a consistent light level in bedrooms & bathrooms, & use nightlights.
* for those with hearing issues - for easier communication be in a quiet corner of a room or in a side room away from a group; position yourself so you can hear easier; carpet the floors and put curtains in the windows to reduce noise & echoes; purchase devices such as hearing aids, vibrating alarm clocks, amplified TV sets, flashing lights to announce information & warnings; ask your local telephone company for amplified headsets, signal devices, TTYs, & extension bells.

Sometimes with all the above comes frailty, disorientation, & dizziness;
*use furnishings that are stable & without sharp corners to minimize the effects of a fall; remove scatter rugs, sharp objects & clutter BUT keep the layout of the familiar furniture & pathways the same; place barriers at dangerous locations to prevent unstable or disoriented people from falling down stairs or entering unfamiliar rooms where hazards may be present.

Just remember: places have to be ACCESSIBLE & to make them so, they must be made ADAPTABLE. Since 1992, the Americans with Disabilities Act has made many public places accessible, most important being an accessible route to travel (this would include home corridors too connecting important areas). This as well as other parts of the home can be ADAPTED to fit the person's needs by making adjustments. Adjustments to sinks, baths, doors, etc.

The book goes into these adjustments -- will be discussed in another post.

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