Many folks move when they retire, perhaps to make a profit on a home sale or to downsize to their forever home. Older Americans seeking new homes often consider safety as a top priority during this period of change. Here are six key safety features to consider when moving that can help people maintain a decent quality of life:
- LESS STEPS – Stairs and staircases can present a hazard for older adults. Before committing to a new home buy, consider how many steps there are both indoors and out. If considering a home with steps, be sure that there are adequate handrails or alternatives to steps such as elevators or escalators to help with safety.
- OPEN FLOOR PLANS – Open floor plans allow aging homeowners to use devices more easily such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs. Open floor plans permit homeowners to go from room to room with ease. Avoid buying a home with tight hallways and cramped spaces that can hinder movement and create barriers to travel safety.
- BATHROOM FEATURES – Features like taller toilets and shower grip handlebars are beneficial to people who need support while exiting out of wheelchairs and into showers and so forth. Handgrips are particularly useful in preventing slip and fall accidents in the bathroom, especially in areas where flooring may become prone to wetness.
- EVEN FLOORING & FLOORING FEATURES – As people age, walking can become a more complicated action. Uneven flooring, and those made of slippery material, can cause folks of all ages to trip and fall. Bottom line, slippery floors are a no-no. Since floor replacement is often expensive, it’s best to buy a home with reliable flooring. Don’t buy a home with slick tile. Rather, consider homes with soft carpeting, cork, linoleum, vinyl, and other soft flooring. Also, floors should transition well without gaps or elevations that can cause stumbles.
- GOOD LIGHTING – Most people don’t see as well in the dark. As we age, our eyes gradually require increased light levels and lighting of good quality. There are many other reasons to encourage good lighting: it enhances mood, creates warmth and cheer, and even helps folks perform tasks safely. An example of the latter includes good lighting required to slice vegetables in the kitchen. As people age, vision often reduces due to age-related eye diseases, including macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetes, and more. Under lit homes can be a danger, thus it’s best to be safe and seek homes with good lighting. Caution: look out for electrical cords that may pose tripping hazards.
Every year more than two million at-home fall-related mishaps occur across the USA, and nearly 1/3 of seniors report falling with 70% of accidents occurring at home. Though sometimes accidents such as slip and falls are unavoidable, thoughtful steps can often be taken, such as meeting one’s physical requirements when seeking a new residence. The above serve as examples of how we can increase our personal safety and the welfare of older adults we love, to live longer, more healthful, and hopefully accident-free lives.
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