6 Ways To Senior-Proof A home

If there's one thing the recent circuit breaker has taught us, it's how important human interaction and contact is in our lives! This period of isolation has also shone a light on the need to keep a house safe for senior citizens, especially if they live alone. 

It can be very hard to have a peace of mind when we are not immediately present to help our elderly parents or grandparents in the event of an emergency. With circuit breaker limitations easing up, now's the chance to re-evaluate the security of our beloved seniors' homes. 

Here are six ways to start putting safety measures in place: 

1. Keep The Home Brightly Lit

Visibility can be a challenge for many seniors; this is something that can be easily dealth with by ensuring a well-lit home. Make sure walkways, paths, stairs and entrances are uncluttered and illuminated with bright-lighting - opt for bright lights, as opposed to warm yellow ones. As our eye lenses begin to yellow with age, its ability to see cool lighting is diminished. 

One upgrade to consider is motion-sensor lights, to save your elders the trouble of fumbling for switches in the dark, or voice control personal assistance devices to give them seamless control. 

Another simple touch is to introduce task lighting to areas where your elders frequently do activities such as reading or cooking and will need brighter lights. Lights with adjustable controls are helpful here; you can also set up multiple light sources instead of having to deal with the intensity and glare from a single light bulb. 

2. Ensure Maximum Accessibility

The #1 mantra to keep in mind when furnishing a home for seniors is to choose function over form. 

Make sensible decisions to help maximise comfort level. For example, you may wish to have the sink near the stove to save seniors the trouble of carrying heavy pots to and fro. You can also opt for see-through cabinets to make it easier for them to find items and choose rounded edges over sharp corners for countertops to prevent injury. As much as possible, keep doorways wider, spaces more open, and floors level and step-free for better accessibility. 

However, if the house has already been furnished and renovated, have a conversation with your elders to understand their needs better. This helps you make little adjustments with a big difference. For example, placing their most frequently used items at counter-level storage units to reduce the need for bending and tiptoeing. 

3. Safeguard The Bathroom

With its often wet floors, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous parts of the home for seniors and requires a lot of attention to detail. 

Place a non-slip mat next to the shower and the bathroom entrance to circumvent slippery floors. Adding grab bars next to the toilet and shower is also a handy way to give extra assistance. Another important measure to put in place is a first aid box in every bathroom, for immediate access in case of an accident. 

If need be, you can consider buying a shower chair if your elderly has trouble standing for extended periods of time. 

4. Pick The Right Appliances

It is critical to keep putting ourselves in our elders' shoes and see things from their perspectives. Seemingly easy tasks such as boiling water may not be so straightforward when you take into account the limitations our elders deal with. 

Ensure that kitchen appliances have easy-to-read controls and intuitive interfaces - choose the ones that automatically switch off after use, such as an electric kettle instead of a stovetop kettle or an induction cooker instead of a gas stove, to prevent mishaps caused by forgetfulness. 

For an added layer of protection, consider installing a smoke alarm. 

5. Slip Proof The Floors

If you are renovating a home, avoid slippery materials such as marble and opt instead for non-slip textures such as ceramic tiles, vinyl floors or engineered wood. If you are only able to make adjustments, simply apply slip-resistant coatings to floors for added protection. 

Another quick and easy fix is to add rugs or carpets for extra friction; make sure to place non-slip pads under them. In addition, get your elders a sturdy pair of slippers with sufficient grip to wear at home. 

6. Apply For Subsidies

If cost is a factor holding you back, you can apply for some financial relief through HDB's Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme. 

EASE offers up to 95% in government subsidies to retrofit homes for the safety and mobility of senior citizens. You can find out more about it here. In addition, if your elderly are wheelchair users, you can also look into HDB's Wheelchair Lifter Pilot Scheme here

Ultimately, on top of implementing safety measures at home, the personal touch is just as important. Do make it a point to check in regularly with your elderly and their physical well-being, while also staying in touch - a great way to do this is to introduce video calls to them, to make it easier and fun to stay in touch and maintain a bond. 

Another way to look out for them is ensuring they have enough coverage. With MSIG, you get to explore a wide variety of plans for different needs - after all the adjustments and measures put in place, keep your elders protected with Enhanced HomePlus' coverage of furnishings and for personal accidents. 

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