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Adaptations For More Independent Living

 I've often wondered how some older people go for so long while continuing to live on their own.  Sometimes it is because they happen to have exceptionally amazing genes.  These people seem not to age, have no problems with flexibility, aches & pains & seem to continue on in the same manner from age 50 to age 90 or more.  More often, though, as people age & want to maintain their independence, it is because they've learned how to incorporate adaptations into their home, vehicles & lives.   What are some of these adaptations?


Bathrooms:  Bathrooms are the most common place for elderly falls to occur.  In order to maintain independence in this area of the home, many people have special showers installed.  These often involve bathtubs with doors on the side for easy access.  If they have a stand-up shower, they often install a seat to sit on & a hose shower head to make the shower easier to use.  Bars in and next to the shower & commode can also make a world of difference so that a person has a handhold for balance.  If the bathroom cabinets are difficult to access, rolling shelves can also make it easier for the elderly so that they are not forced to try to get on hands & knees to find items in the bottom cupboards.


Kitchens: Toaster ovens become very popular in homes where there are only one or two people.  It's far easier for someone to reach on a counter top than to bend into the oven.  It's also, generally more practical since they're cooking for very few instead of for a large family.  Upright freezers are easier to access than deep freezers.  Pots & pans should be chosen with weight in mind.  If they are heavy, they will not get used often because it hurts wrists & hands if they are too heavy.  Lower cabinets should have sliding shelves, & possibly under the cabinet trash cans, as well.


Living Rooms:  Recliners are commonly upgraded to chairs that will lift in order to help the occupant to stand a little easier.  Area rugs should be firmly attached to the floor or removed altogether as you do not want them to be a tripping hazard.  Magnifying glasses for reading with ease should be placed in area where reading may take place.  Lamps with easy on/off switches are easy to find.


Bedrooms:  Hospital style beds that are adjustable are important as people age & have a harder time sleeping lying down.  Being able to lift the back or knee area of a bed can give options for more comfortable sleep.  It can also help to prevent pneumonia.  Lamps with easy switches are also a must, as well as easy to read alarm clocks.  Dressers should have drawers that slide easily.  Closets should have easy access to everything that they contain.  If sight is an issue, consider color coordinating clothing into outfits & putting them on hangers, or coming up with a system so that they are easier to choose & so that they coordinate.


Entryways/Porches: If stairs are an issue, a ramp should be provided.  Handrails are a must.  If you live in a snowy/icy climate, sand or salt is also a must for entrances. Yak tracks should be provided to cover boots to help with grip on slippery surfaces.


Trips to Town: Using a cane or walker is an easy way to improve balance without a huge expense.  Walkers should be equipped with canvas bags on the sides to hold necessary items without the need for a person to carry bulky bags.  Walkers should also be equipped with seats to make it easier to rest when necessary.  If the stores that you'll be visiting are quite large, consider getting a scooter, if available.  Do not be embarrassed to use any benches that are provided while you're out and about.  Many things become dangerous if we are tired from pushing ourselves too hard without cause.

There are several things that can be done to make life easier as we age.  These things may seem unnecessary at first, but if you think of it in terms of maintaining independence, they become more appealing.  Why not try to maintain freedom for as long as possible?  Go out and live life to it's fullest no matter your age or abilities!  Make memories with those you love!  

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