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Hosting Older Visitors
When your children were small, you probably made some changes in your home to make it safer and more comfortable for them. Now, as your parents and grandparents are aging, some simple adaptations can make your home safer and more comfortable for them, too.
Of course, if an elderly person moves into your home on a permanent basis, you may need to make some fairly significant adaptations. But the Mayo Clinic offers some simple suggestions for preparing your home for a visit from anyone who is becoming frailer and less mobile:
Take up the scatter rugs. Loose scatter rugs are among the leading cause of falls in the home, so remove them from traffic patterns.
Lighten up your rooms. Bright lighting helps reduce falls and other accidents, so make sure that you have at least 60-watt bulbs in most fixtures. You might want to use 100-watt bulbs, if your light fixtures allow, in work areas like the kitchen and in reading lights. In addition, put nightlights throughout your house, especially along popular routes such as between the bedroom and the bathroom or kitchen.
If you have stairs that your visitors will be using, keep them clear of clutter and make sure they are brightly lit. If you have a window at the top or bottom of the stairs, keep the shade or drapes drawn, because the glare from sunlight can make it difficult to see the stairs. If necessary, use bright-colored electrical tape to make your steps easier to see. And if your stairs are carpeted, make sure the carpet is securely attached to the stairs.
Keep electrical cords out of the way. Try not to run cords across a traffic pattern. If you can’t move the cord, tape it down and make sure it is easy to see.
Move low furniture out of high-traffic areas so that your visitors will have a clear path through the room. And if your visitors have trouble hearing, consider moving chairs closer together.
Turn down the setting on your water heater, to reduce the risk of scalding. Or install special faucets or valves that protect against surges of hot water in the shower or bath when, for example, someone flushes a toilet elsewhere in the house.
While you’re at it, make sure to put a non-slip bath mat or strips in the tub, and use a rug with non-skid backing on the floor outside the tub.
Some older people have trouble getting out of a chair that is soft or low. You can make it easier by putting a board under soft cushions and raising the height of low seating with a folded blanket or pillow.
Make sure that bed-side lights can be reached easily from the bed. And use lights that can be turned on and off easily, even by someone with arthritis.