Most of us want to stay in our own homes as we get older, but I’m finding as I age that it’s not as easy as it once was. Climbing the steps and walking into the living room is much more difficult than it used to be. I have arthritis and although I can still move within my house fairly well, that’s only if I stay on the first floor. If I need to go downstairs for anything, it’s a slow, painful walk. I worry the day will come when I walk down the stairs and find I can’t make it back up! I know I’m not alone in experiencing these bumps in the road!
Home modifications are adaptations that we make in our homes in order to improve accessibility. There are many different modifications and assistive technology items that can make it easier for us to age in place, such as grab bars by doorways and showers, or lever doorknobs. There are also many simple changes we can make to our homes to make them more accessible, such as increasing the lighting in your home, or switching to a telephone with adjustable sound so you can hear more clearly. You may need to think about a bigger project, such as a ramp, or roll-in shower.
If you are unsure whether home improvements might keep you in your own home for a longer period of time or not, you may want to ask for a home accessibility assessment. Someone will visit your home and interview you regarding the types of issues you are dealing with that have a negative impact on your ability to live independently. They’ll look at issues such as:
Can you get on and off the toilet or in and out of the shower without difficulty?
Are you able to adjust your water temperature so it isn’t scalding?
If you use a walker or a wheelchair, does it fit through the door frames?
Can you navigate the steps into the kitchen while carrying groceries?
Are there extension cords in the way as you walk through the living room?
Are there handrails on your steps to prevent you from falling?
Do you have trouble getting into your home because you can’t fit your walker on the steps?
Are your washer and dryer on the main floor?
Can you reach the thermostat?
Can you lock your doors easily?
Can you access your emergency exit?
All of these things may affect your ability to live independently. All of them may be made easier using home modification or assistive technology. If you are interested in a home assessment, and if you live in Allegan or Ottawa County, then call Disability Network/Lakeshore (616-396-5326) and schedule an assessment today!