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Staying Safe While Aging in Place

October 31, 2017

Are you an older adult who would like to stay in your home? We’d like to share some tips to help you get started.

According to the United States of Aging survey conducted by AARP in 2012, approximately ninety percent of seniors surveyed intend to continue living in their current home for the next five to ten years. Of these individuals, eighty-five percent believe they are able to do so without having to make significant modifications to their home. Although major changes to the home may not be necessary, minor modifications can provide a more supportive environment that promotes independence.

Access Solutions, a division of Centrex Rehab, is co-owned by Augustana Care and other non-profit organizations. Access Solutions has partnered with community members to provide helpful information and resources to support older adults to continue living independently. Implementing simple, cost effective home modifications, which helps lower the risk of falls and promotes safe, active living, can help elders and those with disabilities live safely in their homes, when appropriate.

Access Solutions combines a knowledge of interior design with physical and occupational therapy and creates solutions which meet the unique needs of each client. Access Solutions uses a universal design approach to design all products and environments, to be usable by many people regardless of ability or situation, without the need for adaptation. This approach encourages the ability to age in place. Staff members’ goals are to create a safe environment so people of all ages living independently can complete daily tasks without risk of injury. 

Services include those listed below and more:

  • Education/prevention
  • Home access assessments
  • Modification assessment report
  • Design and consultation
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia environment consulting 

Access Solutions Director Alissa Boroff says, “People sometimes have to leave their homes because of environmental barriers. Yet often, all they really need are some simple adaptations or the right equipment.” As an occupational therapist and interior designer, Boroff typically follows residents from room to room to see how they navigate their surroundings. She will then suggest improvements, ranging from ideas such as removing slippery throw rugs to installing grab bars and railings. In many cases, the cost of installing railings in a few crucial places can run about $1,000 or less.

Following are simple, low-cost/no-cost updates that can be done to make your home more safe and livable as you get older: 

Install grab bars in bathroom

Generally used:

  • tub/shower
  • across from toilet
  • next to toilet

Install raised toilet seats

Replace existing toilet with comfort height toilet, or add raised toilet seat to existing toilet.

Install lever handles

Replace door knobs with lever handles

Install a railing at stairways

Add railings at interior and exterior stairs

Install contrasting material or color on stairs

Add permanent or semi-permanent contrast color at stair treads to easily see the steps

Neutralize thresholds at doorways

Modify thresholds with transition strips or threshold ramps to be 1⁄2” or less

Update lighting

Add additional task and general lighting

Create easy access to kitchen storage

Add features for ease of use, such as:

  • pull out shelves
  • lazy Susan
  • drawers

Install adjustable hand-held shower head

Replace existing shower head with one including controls that are easy to access and operate

Create easy access to closet storage

Add varied height shelving and rods in closets for ease of use

This list was compiled by Access Solutions and Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging as a resource only. 

About Augustana Care:

Augustana Care provides housing, health care and community-based services to older generations and others in need—and helps those we serve live the lives that most inspire them. The principles that guide our work are as follows:

  • To value older generations’ talents and experience
  • To provide the care residents need, when and where they need it
  • To connect residents to the people and things that mean the most to them
  • To support residents and families with spiritual care that speaks to who they are

Learn more about Augustana Care at www.augustanacare.org.

Access Solutions is a division of Centrex Rehab, which was founded in 2012 and is co-owned by Augustana Care and other non-profit organizations. Centrex Rehab is a therapy company that provides rehabilitation services to a diverse clientele in many distinct settings.