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Four Bedroom Upgrades to Help Seniors Safely Age in Place

BedroomAccording to the results of a recent survey, the vast majority of seniors (87 percent of those aged 65 and older and 71 percent of those aged 50-64) want to continue living in their current home as they age.

If you have a parent or loved one who is part of this group, you might be facing a bit of dilemma. On the one hand, you want to honor their wishes. But, on the other hand, you might also be concerned that living alone increases their risk of injury, especially if they struggle with health problems or mobility limitations.

You don’t necessarily need to move your parent or loved one out of their home to help them stay safe as they age.

Some simple upgrades to the house, particularly in the bedroom, can help them maintain their independence and safely age in place. Read on to learn about some of the most effective upgrades you can start implementing today.

1. Light Adjustments

Lighting changes can help seniors get around safely even if their vision isn’t as good as it once was.

Some adjustments you might want to consider making to your parent or loved one’s bedroom lighting include:

  • Clapping lights, touch-activated lamps, or motion sensor night lights to help seniors see where they’re going in the middle of the night without having to fumble for the light switch
  • Increased ambient and task lighting for better visibility in the evenings
  • Minimized glare to avoid reflections that could temporarily impair their vision when they turn on the light
  • Fluorescent lamps that improve color perception and contrast (this makes choosing clothing and distinguishing color in reading material easier)
  • Balanced illumination so that all areas of the room are equally visible

2. Bed Rails

In addition to the bathroom, the area next to the bed is one of the riskiest spots for seniors aging in place. Many seniors slip or stumble when trying to get out of bed and end up injuring themselves.

To avoid this, installing bed rails can allow for easier transitions when getting in and out of bed.

Bed rails come in a number of different styles, so it’s important to keep these considerations in mind when shopping for the right ones for your parent or loved one:

  • Ensure their bed can be fitted with rails (waterbeds and platform beds often can’t)
  • Look for rails that they can raise and lower themselves from bed
  • Add bumper pads on top of the rails for increased comfort
  • Decide whether a safety rail (prevents them from rolling out of the bed) or an assist rail (helps them stay stable
  • When climbing in and out of bed) is more appropriate

3. Phone and Electronic Access

As they age, your parent or loved one may have days when they simply aren’t feeling up to leaving their bedroom. To keep them from feeling bored or isolated, make sure they have easy access to electronic devices, such as a television, computer, or tablet.

It’s also important for them to have a cell phone handy -- or a landline installed in the bedroom -- so that they can easily call for help if needed.

In order to prevent these devices from becoming hazardous, you’ll need to pay attention to where all the cords and cables are located. Make sure nothing is stretched across the room, which can serve as a tripping hazard. You should also check cords and cables regularly to ensure nothing is frayed or damaged -- this is a fire hazard.

You might also want to consider having outlets adjusted so that they’re more easily accessible -- raising them higher on the wall can allow your parent or loved one to plug in devices without having to stoop down and risk falling or hurting their back.

4. Sturdy, Secure Furniture

Finally, make sure that all your parent or loved one’s bedroom furnishings are sturdy and secure. They should be stable enough that someone could grab onto them for support with having them fall over.

Make sure bookshelves and wardrobes are anchored to the wall, and invest in a heavy nightstand that won’t slide to the side if your parent or loved one needs to use it for support. You can also place special non-skid pads under the nightstand to help prevent this from happening.

Conclusion

If your parent or loved one wants to age in place -- and they aren’t suffering from any serious medical conditions or mobility issues -- don’t fight them on it. Instead, consider helping them upgrade their home to make it safer and more secure.

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