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Five Fixes Under $500

Home modifications and adaptive devices could help seniors—even those with disabilities— remain independent in their homes.

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It’s a fact: Parents and their children don’t always see eye-to-eye. That theory seems to carry through to adulthood when it comes to perceptions of home safety.

In a home safety survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network, 65% of adult children in the U.S. (an overwhelming 71% in Canada) say their senior loved one has at least one home safety issue, but nearly 70% of seniors surveyed (68.6%) – who have not made modifications or who don’t plan to make modifications to their homes – say their home doesn’t need safety modifications.

Adult children in the U.S. and Canada surveyed by Home Instead, Inc., say their parents have the following conditions. These issues could make aging safely at home more difficult:

  • Arthritis – 48.4% (37% in Canada)
  • Over or Under Weight – 29.6% (23.5% in Canada)
  • Diabetes – 28.4% (20.6% in Canada)
  • Poor Eyesight – 27.9% (28% in Canada)
  • Impaired Mobility – 13.8% (9.9% in Canada)
  • Impaired Hearing – 11.6% (8.2% in Canada)

Home modifications and adaptive devices could help seniors—even those with disabilities— remain independent in their homes. Seniors and their families don’t always recognize the need. While 100% of ER doctors in the U.S. (99% in Canada) say it’s very important that families invest in basic home safety modifications, only 18% of adult children report they or their parents have made these modifications.

Home Instead and Dan Bawden, founder of the Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) designation for the National Association of Home Builders, offer the following safety suggestions for budget-conscious families.

  1. Replace wall-mount shower heads with handheld shower heads on a hose.

    Handheld shower heads are both convenient and safe because a senior can use the device as a fixed shower head – adjustable to the proper height – or convert it to a handheld one.

    Cost: generally less than $100. With a plumber’s help, could be up to $175 to $200.

  2. Install grab bars on the wall near the shower or tub.
    Seniors who become unsteady on their feet or start to have balance problems could be tempted to grab on to a towel bar or shower curtain and put themselves at risk of falls. Head to a big box store or super center.

    Cost: typically $30 to $60 for a good quality bar. With a pro’s help, an estimated $175 to $200 per bar for parts and labor.

  3. Convert to lever handle faucets.
    Water flow and temperature could be easier for arthritic fingers to control with a lever faucet, rather than one that twists on and off.

    Cost: usually between $170 and $250. Add about $150 to $200 for a plumber to install.

  4. Add lighting to closets and pantries.
    Dark closets could not only be safety hazards, they could make dressing more difficult for seniors.

    Cost: With attic access, a qualified electrician could install a light for around $250. Cost to add a battery-operated light: typically less than $25.

  5. Add swing clear hinges.
    Narrow doorways could be difficult for walkers and wheelchairs to navigate. Replacing standard hinges with “swing clear hinges” allows the door to swing completely clear of the door opening. This can add an extra 1.5 to 2” of clearance without widening the doorway.

    Cost of a handyman or trim carpenter: about $150. A pair of these hinges generally costs between $20 and $30.

Note: Estimates shown are U.S. only. Costs may differ in Canada. Contact a local Home Instead franchise office in Canada for more information.

Check out more resources. Or contact your local Home Instead office to learn how a CAREGiverSM could help keep seniors safer at home.

Last revised: April 21, 2014

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. May 2, 2014 at 1:24 am | Posted by Desire

    As a caregiver I think this is a very good initiative to help caregivers and relatives of senior citizen to think of simple ways to maintain the safety of their loved ones. In fact I would do my best to inform as many people as I can regarding aged persons safety and security. How simple, little things can contribute to the safeguard of our parents, grand parents and neighbours. Thank you.


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