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Aging in Place: A Real Choice
By Helen Hunter, ACSW, CMSW
Bathrooms should be equipped with
safety features. One of the most important rooms in the
house to design correctly in order to allow homeowners
to age in place is the bathroom. Grab bars, a bath chair
and a raised toilet seat can provide stability for the
older person and prevent falls. Falls in the bathroom or
on the stairs are the second leading cause of accidents
for elders, just behind automobile accidents. It would
be prudent to invest in enlarging at least one bathroom
in the home. A larger bathroom makes maneuvering easier
for people with walkers, crutches and wheelchairs.
For those who have to handle daily
climbing of stairs, it is very important to have proper
lighting on stairways. Eyesight changes as people age.
Most of the older homes donít have adequate lighting on
stairways. Therefore, installing lights with adjustable
controls, or dimmers, can help prevent glare and ensure
proper lighting. Task lighting is also preferred for
cooking, reading and shaving, while softer light is
appropriate for night trips to the bathroom.
There are some elders who will choose
to move to a new home when they retire, many of which
will have a number of the above features in place. Many
others, however, will not have the ability to make such
a move, for a number of reasons.
By planning ahead, and making some
home modification changes now, elders can choose to
remain in their home, comfortable in their surroundings,
aging in place, maintaining their independence and
Helen Hunter, ACSW, CMSW, is an
independent geriatric social worker, consultant and
trainer. She is also a writer and has had numerous
articles published in local and national magazines
focusing on elder care and family care issues. Licensed
in the states of Connecticut, New York and Florida, she
currently resides in Fort Myers, Florida.