When buying or remodeling their home, most families are thinking about the awesome barbecues they will have in the back yard or how classy the columns around the front door look. Does anyone really think about what it would be like to fit a wheelchair through the front door or into the bathroom? Or how hard it might be for grandma and grandpa to make it up and down the stairs when they come to visit for the weekend? Having a home that meets the needs for older residents and people with disabilities should also be on the minds of homeowners.
According to the National Association of Realtors, families usually stay in their homes for an average of 13 years. A lot can happen in a decade and homeowners may want to consider how suitable their home is for a time when accessibility and comfort are not just a luxury, but a necessity. Local Farmers Insurance Agent Alicia Cramer, and Age and Dementia Friendly (ADF) Winnemucca Project Coordinator Gini Cunningham, presented the HomeFit— Making Certain Your Home is Accessible lecture at the Pleasant Senior Center on April 26th. They discussed the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) guide for smart ways in which to make homes more comfortable for older adults and people of all ages. Cramer explained the significance of having an accessible home and said “we have to make sure to keep our people safe.” Cunningham added “it never hurts to plan ahead.”
Here are their tips based off of the AARP guide, for creating a comfortable and accessible space within the home:
• Place fire extinguishers in accessible locations throughout the home.
• Install dual fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home.
• Replace throw rugs with non-slip mats.
• Gather medications into one central location in the home and dispose of unneeded or expired medications at local drop stations.
• Replace door knobs with lever-style handles.
• Add handrails to all stairs or ramps.
• Install support rods around toilets and in showers and tubs for support.
• Install motion-detector night-lights in dark spaces and along stairs, steps, or in poorly-lit areas.
• Switch light bulbs to more efficient long-lasting brands and always have a spotter when changing them.
• Put flashlights in multiple places throughout the home, like bedside tables and junk drawers in case of power outages.
• Maintain a landline or keep a cell phone nearby. Keep multiple cell phone chargers throughout the house.
• Install an automatic garage door opener.
• Secure all cords and wires to avoid tripping hazards.
• Make sure that address numbers are installed and well lit for visitors, delivery men, or paramedics.
• Place small tables or benches by doors to avoid having full hands when entering or exiting.
• Create a specific place for delivery items through contact with carriers.
• Create a storage spot for shoes and wear non-slip slippers when possible.
• Use a designated tote or basket with handles for carrying items up and down stairs.
• Eliminate floor clutter with baskets and bins.
• Avoid clutter in general.
• Create a designated spot for pet toys to avoid tripping over them.
• Rearrange cabinets so the items that are most used are in convenient locations.
• Utilize a chair next to closets or doors for putting on or taking off shoes and socks.
• Store glasses or magnifying glasses in multiple places for reading small print.