Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Modify your home to keep safe

FACT-1 Did you know that positivity in response to emotional and neutral stimuli increases with age?

FACT-2 Did you know that as we age, we become better at navigating our social environment and minimise drama?

FACT-3 Funny but true – Older people quite simply react more positively to distress because the areas in their brain that generate negative reactions don’t function as well.

On the other hand, while emotional response increases with age, mobility is compromised. Getting around, be it in the comfort of your home, outdoor errands or travel, all that was once a cakewalk is very likely to be harder to handle with age.

Simple things like the flooring in your home may now be slippery, or the few steps to the basement may be difficult to climb. Your SUV will now be traded in for a low car. Modification is key to improve your safety and comfort level, all to make your life easier.

One in four people over the age of 65 experience a fall — The National Council on Aging.

The majority (60%) of falls happen in the home, 30% in a public setting, and 10% in a health care center.

Lets view the most common areas of falls and some modification recommendations —

At home —

For the Bathroom —

  • Grab bars in your bathroom, to me this is vital, go ahead and install grab bars on either side of the toilet seat, either side of the shower area walls and at the rim of the basin for that extra safety.
  • Raise your toilet seat 4-6 inches with the ‘toilet seat riser’ getting up and sitting; with the help of the grab handles will keep your knees happy.
  • Non-skid mats — one below your basin, one below your pot, one in the shower area and one outside the shower door and one under your

bath mat outside your bathroom door. Lets just say safety in numbers!

  • A night light too.

For the bedroom —

  • Night light is very important, if you feel like a good treat for your safety, fit in sensor floor lights, this will ensure you don’t have to sleep the night in a room with light and the minute you lay your foot on the floor, navigate the path to the toilet is visible. I say get it!
  • A -3-pronged cane is something you must have, nights can be disorienting, you must have a sturdy walking stick around.

Around the house —

  • Reading glasses and a good old magnifying glass hanging around in each room.
  • A cross-body pouch with your phone in it- very important, this way your hands are free and you do not need to rush to pick-up a call. All in the name of avoiding a fall.
  • Firm cushions for your back and if you need to raise your seat.
  • Change doorknobs to lever handles, you will be able to grip better.
  • Brighter light bulbs all around the house is a good idea.
  • Non-Skid mats on the kitchen floor
  • Even though cast iron pots and pans are trending, you choose ones that are light in weight, handles with a grip and make sure it’s easy to handle. In fact all your appliances should be simple, easy to clean and a no brainer to use.
  • If you live in a home with levels, rails on both sides of stairs is vital and if need be a stair glide or a motorized lift too.
  • Lower shelves to waist level to avoid balancing on your toes or using step ladders.

On the road —

  • We all tend to fight age by not wanting others to know or for it to be visible. I have noticed this especially in older men, where bravado is the name of the game. Word of caution – A fall is no fun, the road to recovery is long indeed, so shake that ego off and use aids — a sturdy cane, a walker or even a motorized wheelchair.
  • Always look for rails to hold on to when climbing steps or use ramps whenever possible.
  • Trade your vehicle for comfort, ease, stability versus swank!

Travel —

Although travel requires a lot of planning, do not give up on it. The world has so much beauty and culture to offer for a lifetime. Grab every opportunity. Organization and helpful tips from other older adults will keep each vacation memorable – happy memories.

Use tour companies who specialize in trips for older adults. Most airlines accommodate passengers with mobility issues, Each have their own rules, choose the airline or cruise liner that accommodates almost all of your requirements. Happy trails.

Lets call it a wrap — Older we get; there is no escaping mobility issues. Don’t be too harsh on yourself; in fact these are the years to be most kind to yourself.

There is so much out there to help you cope with mobility, all you need to do is sit in your armchair with your smart phone and search —

Grab bars,

Toilet seat riser,

Non-skid mats,

-3-pronged cane,


Sensor floor lights,

Magnifying glass,

Cross-body pouch,

Firm cushions,

Lever handles,

60watt bulbs,

Lightweight pots and pans,

And the list carries on with the double click.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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