It’s no secret that Canada’s population is getting older. Census data released earlier this year by Statistics Canada show that, for the first time ever, seniors make up a bigger share of our nation’s population than children. By 2031, the agency predicts that nearly one in four Canadians will be over 65.
Finding suitable and affordable housing for seniors is already proving to be an issue in some municipalities. And if decreasing mobility is a concern, the challenge is even greater. For some families, the only option is to invite aging parents or grandparents home to live with them. If you will soon be welcoming an elderly family member into your home, here are just a few of the ways that you can make adjustments to create a more accessible living space for the new arrivals.
Anyone suffering from arthritis knows that it gets more and more difficult to squeeze and turn door knobs, so a simple first step in making your home accessible is replacing knobs with levers, which push down easily.
Installing grab bars and handrails is another easy way to make your home safer without making a major change. Every staircase should have handrails on both sides and there should be grab bars near toilets and bathtubs. If you do have the option to renovate a bathroom to make it more accessible, leave out the tub and replace it with a shower. When tackling a major renovation, be sure to enlarge doorways to 32-36 inches in case wheelchair access is needed now or in the future. Swing-away hinges may work to widen a doorway slightly if a temporary solution is needed.
Area rugs look nice but they can actually be a hazard for the elderly, causing trips and falls. Avoid placing small area rugs or runners in hallways, bathrooms or bedrooms.
Household falls also happen when an individual can’t see where they are going. Be sure to change light bulbs as soon as they burn out and add additional lighting to dark staircases, hallways or rooms.
In the kitchen, make sure your cabinet door hardware is easy to grab (D-shaped handles on cupboards and drawers tend to be the easiest), daily use items are within easy reach and clutter is kept off the floor.
With just a few small changes, you can make your home safer for elderly relatives!