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How to Stay Safe at Home When Mobility Is a Concern

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If you have mobility limitations, a traditionally-styled house can be cumbersome.  In fact, sometimes, your home can even be downright dangerous.  Whether you are considering aging in place or are currently living with a disability, little changes can mean a lot.  Read on for information on how to create a home environment that is both supportive and secure.

Start with your lifestyle

Depending on your situation, there may be some simple lifestyle changes which could improve your circumstances.  For instance, reducing slipping and tripping hazards around your home, such as area rugs and ottomans, is a great first step.  Seniors hoping to age in place can often also benefit from becoming fitter.  For one thing, exercise is an opportunity to control weight, and some experts feel being overweight can negatively impact joint health.  Also, Silver Sneakers notes there are exercises you can do to help with balance issues.  Building your strength and flexibility can improve stability.  Note you might be eligible for the Silver Sneakers program through either Medicare or one of Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans, so explore your options, and make full use of the benefits you’re entitled to enjoy.

Evaluate overall structure

When assessing individual homes, it can help to keep universal design concepts in mind.  This building philosophy is based on the idea that a home should be comfortable and safe for people of all ages, sizes, lifestyles, and abilities.  There is a variety of features which can improve home accessibility, but basic structure influences how easily someone with mobility issues can maneuver through a space.  Whether considering modifications or transitioning into a more accessible house, keep structure and these ideas in mind.

Start with necessities

According to the Los Angeles Times, bathroom-related falls are a common occurrence, with mishaps frequently landing people in emergency rooms every year.  Thankfully, there are several bathroom modifications which can improve accessibility and help prevent falls.  For instance, moving to and from the shower or tub can be especially dangerous, as you shift your balance to navigate ledges and slippery surfaces.  Refinishing the tub and tile with a nonslip treatment, adding a shower chair, and installing grab bars can make transitioning safer.  If you’re up for a more substantial remodel, building a home, or looking at houses, a threshold-free shower is ideal.  You should also aim for enough floor space to allow for wheelchair navigation, as well as a second person in the room in case assistance is needed.

Simple additions

Sometimes, a house meets important structural requirements, and through minor tweaking, homeowners can greatly improve accessibility.  Some simple changes include exchanging round door knobs for lever-style handles, adding more lights in dim areas, and replacing faucets with lever-style handles.  In the kitchen, a lowered work surface, looped cabinet pulls, and an accessible sink are helpful.  If a major remodel is out of the question, a pull-out counter or portable work station are worthwhile alternatives.  You can remove the cabinet under the kitchen sink to make it more accessible, and installing roll-out organizers helps homeowners for whom stretching and bending is an issue.

General changes

Are you considering major modifications or moving into a home that is more accessible?  Some of the structural elements to look for are details like threshold-free doorways, open floor plans, smooth surface flooring, and ample lighting.  One-story design is also a boon, or consider adding chair lifts or elevators.  It’s important to consider outdoor issues as well.  Look for slipping and tripping hazards on sidewalks, porches, and decks, and a ramp can ease coming and going.  There are many desirable features and it can be easy to miss things, so consider using a checklist when evaluating homes.

Having a home that promotes comfort and independence is crucial to quality of life.  Think about what you can do differently and how your environment could impact your lifestyle. If you have mobility concerns or are considering aging in place, it’s important to make sure you can stay safe.

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