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Home Safety for Seniors and Disabled

Safety Tips for Home Modification Access

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Home Modifications for Seniors and People With Disabilities.

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First and foremost...Medicare never covers home modifications, such as ramps or widened doors for improving wheelchair access. Though your doctor may suggest that home modifications may help due to your medical condition, Medicare does not include coverage for them under its durable medical equipment (DME) benefit.

As aging occurs reflexes diminish and health problems make us prone to emergencies. Making a home environment safe is essential to our well elderly loved ones peace of mind.

A few simple adjustments can make a huge difference. Make sure that there are clear paths through each room. Move furniture out of the way to create such paths. Be aware of small area or throw rugs that could cause falls or slips. Remove such rugs or make sure they are secured with double-sided tape or a non-slip backing.

Home Safety for Seniors and Disabled

The following easy, low or no cost home safety modification tips can help make a  home safer for elderly loved one:

  • Review the home and implement changes where needed, especially in the three most dangerous areas: Bedroom, living room and hallway.
  • To avoid falls, select contrasting colors for area rugs and secure them with non-skid backing to avoid tripping.
  • Replace or eliminate rugs if the edges begin to curl.
  • Keep floor space free from clutter, to include: Electrical cords, newspapers, books and magazines, and childrenís and/or a petís toys.
  • Illuminate or increase light in dark areas for ease in getting around at night.
  • Remove unnecessary furniture and keep all traffic paths clear.
  • Ensure bathroom safety by using grab bars in the shower, tub and by the commode, and rubber mats on all slippery surfaces.
  • If you have stairs indoors or outside, handrails should be firmly attached and run the entire length of the staircase. Consider adding a reflective strip to each step where appropriate.
  • A professional home inspection can help identify areas of potential danger with your heating and cooling system.
  • Homes heated with gas should be checked for leaks. And donít overlook a gas dryer!
  • Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning, and see if they are hard-wired for safety in case of dead batteries.
  • Remember to have the water heater inspected too, and reduce the hot water temperature a few degrees to avoid potential scalding.

Home Access Modification Ideas

Home access modifications can be as simple as adding grab bars or may entail extensive structural alterations including replacing a stairway, adding stair lifts, having a wheelchair ramp, or removing a bathtub and replacing it with a walk-in-shower.

Home improvements, modifications, and repairs can help older adults maintain their independence and prevent accidents. Work can range from simple changes, like replacing doorknobs with pull handles, to major structural projects such as installing a wheelchair ramp. 

Home Safety Tips

Another simple solution to improve home safety for seniors, eliminating potentially dangerous situations, is to use separate medicine cabinets if more than one person living in the home is taking medication. This practice will avoid accidental medication mix-ups and confusion. If an elder is able to access their own medications, make sure a step or stool isnít needed to reach the cabinet.

Finally, work out an emergency escape plan in case of fire. Included in your plan should be a review of all doors and windows. Replace knobs with handles on any hard to open doors and remove all interior door locks so that in case of an emergency all doors can be opened easily. Windows should be easy to open. You may want to review your plan with your local fire department to be certain nothing is omitted.

If you think these safety techniques seem unnecessary, consider these facts:

  • Falls are the leading cause of death in the home, and they are the leading cause of accidental death among seniors.
  • Seniors are five times more likely to be hospitalized because of fall-related injuries than all other injuries/causes combined.
  • Every 35 seconds, a senior dies from fall injuries.
  • A typical 85-year old needs three times more light than a teen

Making your home a safe haven for yourself or preparing a home for aging loved ones can be a stressful task. Donít try to do it alone. If possible, involve other family members to help, and seek help from qualified home care professionals to help ease the burden.

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