Make Your Home Senior-Friendly

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As people grow older, getting around the house is no longer a given. Arthritis and other ailments can make moving around a difficult proposition. This puts seniors in the position of making choices -- either risking the danger of falls and injuries, or making a move to a home that may be more suitable. Few, however, relish the idea of changing residences in their retirement years.

Fortunately, there's another option: modifying the home to be safer and more user-friendly. Several preemptive steps can be taken to make a home equipped and comfortable for living out senior years.

Lighting. While you may feel as though you know your home like the back of your hand, you should still install some extra lighting throughout your home as you get older. To avoid falls, make sure staircases are well lit. If not, have overhead lights installed and make sure all light switches are easy to reach. Around a staircase, make sure there's a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. Battery-operated lights can do the trick and help you avoid costly electrician costs.

Add a telephone or two. Though it's good, especially for seniors, to always have a cell phone on hand, it's also a good idea to equip your home with an extra telephone in key rooms -- even in the bathroom, where falls often occur. If you suffer from arthritis, give your aches and pains a break and have a telephone installed in a reading room or family room if they're not already there. In addition, install a telephone in your bedroom. This will keep you from making long, unnecessary walks, saving your legs for more important things like traveling or playing with the grandkids.

Install extra handrails. Staircases and bathrooms are often the scene of the crime with respect to home accidents involving seniors. Slippery floors in bathrooms can be countered by adding a handrail along the wall right outside your shower or tub. With something to grab onto as you step out, you're less likely to slip on a wet floor. Consider also placing a seat or handrail in the shower so you can steady yourself when washing.

In addition, an extra handrail opposite the existing handrail on your staircase can compensate for any diminished vision that comes with aging and leads to a loss of depth perception that often causes spills on the staircase. With the extra handrail to hold onto, you can avoid falling altogether or minimize the damage done if you do fall.

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