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December 17, 2013

Simple changes for making a home senior-friendly

NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior, What tips or products can you recommend to help make a home safer and more convenient for aging in place? My husband and I are in our 70s and don’t have the money for any big renovations, but we want to do what we can to stay in our house as long as possible.

— Homebodies

Dear Homebodies,

There are lots of small adjustments and simple modifications you can do to make your home safer and livable as you age that are very inexpensive or completely free. Here are several to consider.

Fall-proofing: Since falls are the leading cause of home injury among seniors, a good place to start is by picking up any possible clutter that can cause you to trip, like newspapers, books, shoes, clothes, electrical or phone cords. If you have throw rugs, remove them or use double-sided tape to secure them. And if you have stairs, consider putting handrails on both sides.

Good lighting is also very important, so add lamps or light fixtures where needed, and install brighter full-spectrum bulbs in existing fixtures to improve visibility. Also purchase some inexpensive plug-in nightlights for the bedroom, bathroom and hallways, and consider installing motion sensor lights outside the front and back doors and in the driveway.

In the bathroom, get some non-skid bath rugs for the floors, put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of the tub/shower and have a carpenter install grab bars inside the tub/shower.

And in the kitchen, organize your cabinets so the things you use most often are within easy reach without using a step stool.

Simple modifications: Growing old can also bring about various physical limitations that can make your home more difficult to use. Some simple solutions, for example, that can help weak or arthritic hands is to replace round doorknobs with lever handles or get some inexpensive doorknob lever adapters.

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