By Bryn Huntpalmer
There’s no question that aging in place is ideal for many seniors. Not only does living at home improve both independence and quality of life for the elderly, it’s also financially beneficial. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has determined that it costs the average senior $928 dollars a month to age in place, compared to the $5,243 median monthly payment for assisted living facilities.
In some cases, living at home may be even safer for elderly loved ones.
When older adults are relaxed and comfortable with their surroundings, there are bound to be fewer accidents than there would be on unfamiliar ground.
Still, there are some things caregivers and loved ones can do to make sure seniors stay as safe as possible in their own homes.
Outfitting Homes With Automated Features
Smart device manufacturers for items like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and security systems now pair their devices with a connected app, giving you a chance to monitor environmental conditions and safety conditions remotely, without relying on a phone call to check in. Likewise, there are now a range of smart medical alert products — such as apps or smart watches — that can give you an instant readout on your loved one’s health.
Taking Care With Wiring
A new fleet of connected devices means introducing more cords and wiring into a home — which can result in more trip and fall hazards. Cords should be secured along walls or behind furniture, never under rugs or in heavily-trafficked areas.. If you can’t make the wiring work in a room, hire an electrician to install a new outlet. It should only cost a few hundred dollars, well worth it when you consider a senior’s safety.
Not every fall hazard can be prevented. However, accidents can be minimized by improving the lighting in the entire home. In particular, pay attention to stairwells and bathrooms. Sensored lighting and glow-in-the-dark switches can help enormously, so that loved ones never have to fumble around in a darkened room to find the lights.
Hiring a Network of Helpers
Out-of-control clutter and untended lawns and walkways can jeopardize safety in any home. Professional cleaning services and landscapers aren’t necessarily cheap, but they can be instrumental in avoiding additional fall hazards. Plus, they offer an additional contact person in the event of an emergency. It never hurts to have another person to check on your elderly loved one!
Enlisting Professional Assistance
Each individual’s circumstances are unique, of course. Health and space issues can create special problems that need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Any elderly person contemplating aging in place would benefit from a home safety consultation. A general practitioner can provide a referral to an occupational therapist. From there, the occupational therapist can make personalized recommendations for your senior’s home and offer advice for accessing special services and products.
Taking Advantage of Local Relief Programs
While home updates aren’t always cheap, many local governments offer some relief in the form of elder care modification loans. Older residents may also benefit from property tax exemptions and other savings as well, which can help redirect funds to pay for improvements. Use the Eldercare Locator tool from the U.S. Administration on Aging to find different services in your area. After all, aging shouldn’t be something you and your family have to face alone!
Bryn Huntpalmer lives in Austin, Texas where she currently works as editor-in-chief of Modernize with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.