How visitable is your parent's home?
It's always great to be home for the holidays with family and
friends all around. Because my mom, in-laws and some of their friends are
getting a little older and want to age in place, home modifications
for safety and visitability are worth actively exploring with them.
At this time of year when I'm home my mom and I do a
walk-through of the house, room-by-room, and look for potential
hazards or simple improvements that can be made while I am there or
by a pro later on.
Adequate Lighting Is Essential to Safety
One of the simplest but vastly important items to check is lighting.
Starting outdoors and then throughout the house and garage. When you
are thinking about lighting you also need to think about shadows.
Shadows can dramatically alter one's perception - particularly depth.
Entering and leaving the house
find it useful to perform common tasks like putting a key in the
front door lock at night with the lights on. When approaching the
front door if there are one or more steps are they well lit? What
about shadows? When you get to the door are you blocking your own
light? Is the lock clearly visible? Is there a screen or storm door
that when opened blocks the light?
Once you have completed the ease of entry drill try leaving the
house as you or a guest would. Take a good look at the steps and
shadows and the walkway. Are there uneven bright and dark patches or
places where your own shadow is a hazard?
I also go through the
same drill by entering the house through the garage (attached) where family
enters and exits 90% of the time.
In the hub of the house - the kitchen
Last year we installed under cabinet task lights
and 3 new pendant type lights over the sink and adjacent counter
tops. We're probably in pretty good shape there. But I will be spending a
lot of time in the kitchen since we all take turns cooking or
cleaning up so I will be able to tweak things based on hands-on use if
Master bedroom, bath and closet
The last thing you want is someone
fumbling around in the dark. So you might want to consider bedside
lamps that you can touch and they light up. Or, a motion sensor that
will trigger a light if someone gets out of the bed. And it's always
a good idea to keep a flash light within reach in case of power
In the bathroom, even if you determine that there is sufficient light, you
might want to consider installing a heat lamp for those
Closets rarely have enough light for older people to truly
distinguish subtle color differences. You might consider natural
light, fluorescent lighting to supplement what's there or replace it.
Navigating the house
Hallways are another great place for a motion detector activated light. There
is always the temptation to NOT turn on the lights either because of
familiarity or there is just
enough light to kind of see coming from other rooms.
When it comes to lighting more is better
I find, generally, with lighting for seniors you are better off with
more rather than less than they need. When in doubt bump it up a notch!
Also, with ceiling light fixtures try to use the ones that have
multiple bulbs so that if one goes out there will still be some
light until it's replaced. And yes, lots of light-sensing night
lights around the house are also good to use.
Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and joyous holiday!