Making home senior friendly pays dividends

A growing number of seniors are finding that with a few design changes, their home can be made to accommodate their physical, financial and emotional needs as they grow older.

For many, this means they can maintain a sense of independence and avoid moving to a different home, moving in with a relative or to a retirement community. Some say the comfort and peace of mind that can come from staying in a home that has been remodeled is worth the modest investment the changes require. In some cases, these renovations may add value to a home.

Here are a few examples of changes that can make a residence more senior friendly:

• Installing handheld showers and non-slip strips on the shower or tub floor.

• Lowering at least one countertop in the kitchen so meals can be prepared while sitting down.

• Finding a stove with controls on the front so you don’t have to reach across burners.

• Putting a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer in the kitchen can make it easier to get into the freezer while shelves that roll out of cabinets make heavy pots more accessible.

• Mounting light fixtures with dimmers on walls or overhead can reduce the risk of tripping over wires.

• Seniors with diminished mobility may want to consider installing a stairlift with the appropriate safety features.

For example, one type of stairlift can be controlled by either the simple mechanical “paddle” switches at the end of both seat arms or by an infrared remote control hand-set.

This feature can be beneficial when there are more than two users in the house and the lift needs to be sent or “called” up and down the stairs. In addition, the wireless design means that there is no unsightly wall-mounted wiring for control stations.

At the end of either an ascent or descent, the stairlift is designed to come to a “soft stop” due to the limit sensors. These sensors are said to ensure that the stairlift always stops in the correct position.