There are several aging in place treatments and solutions that the average homeowner or tenant can use to make their living space more comfortable, convenient, safe, and accessible – that are quite inexpensive and do not require the services of a contractor or handyman. A professional can be used, but this isn’t necessary. Most anyone can do these items themselves or have them done by someone without any specific training in renovations or home improvements. There are no permits required for any of this work and no inspections either. Just decide which projects are going to be done and proceed.
Even when an individual feels that they cannot do the work themselves, a family member, a neighbor, a friend, or a volunteer (from church, neighborhood organization, social agency, support group, or youth group) can provide the labor to get the projects completed. This gives those lending a hand on the project the satisfaction of knowing that they truly helped someone that needed it – and they made it possible for someone to remain in their present home that much longer.
If someone is visually impaired or mobility challenged (using a wheelchair, walker, or cane for assistance to get around inside their home or for balance and stability) and has limited ability to help out with the improvements or can’t participate at all in helping on such projects, there still are a few, inexpensive safety items can be accomplished for them without them feeling that they have unduly burdoned or imposed on their friends or volunteers for assistance.
Please, don’t worry that the contractors and handymen who normally do home renovation projects are being excluded from these simple fixes because they have many, larger projects that they can be doing and actually putting their skills, training, and efforts to more efficient use. They certainly could handle these projects, but can other people, including the owners and tenants to the limits of their physical ability. None of these projects require a great deal of skill, training, or physical effort, and none are dangerous to complete.
Here are just three of many easy, inexpensive, and relatively quick fixes that seniors or anyone else can do for themselves or that anyone else can provide for them as a friend or volunteer. The only real expense is in purchasing the products that will be used, and in some cases, these can be donated as well.
First, let’s make sure that all of the lightbulbs – or the majority of them anyway – are the LED type. Replace the older-style, hot, and inefficient incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. Fluorescent (tubes, rings, or CFLs) and halogen bulbs – if there are any – get the same treatment. The reasons are threefold: (1) the lighting is more uniform and easier on their vision, (2) the bulbs don’t produce as much heat and thus are safer if someone or something flammable happens to touch them, (3) they last considerably longer and in some cases are the equivalent of installing a lifetime bulb that will not need to be replaced. There is some expense for purchasing the bulbs, but bulbs are a fraction of what they were just a couple of years ago.
Second, look for loose runners, throw rugs, carpet remnants, or mats – or thick or fringed area rugs that can impede furniture or assistive devices from moving across them easily – and remove most of them. They can be anchored with a lot of double-stick tape around the edges and cross-hatched between the edges, but it is safer just to remove them. There are four issues with having them (1) they can slide on the flooring underneath them and create a slipping or falling situation, (2) they can (depending on their thickness) create a stumbling or tripping hazard at the edges just by someone attempting to transition onto them, (3) they can wear or stain (from spilled liquids, dropped food, foot traffic, or pets), and (4) they can interfere with wheeled device moving across them.
Third, replace door handles on all hinged doors (entry doors and interior passage doors) that have non-lever handles presently. Look for entry doors with the latch-style handles and for interior doors with the round knobs. These become increasingly difficult to use as people age due to weakening hand and arm strength, hand-eye coordination, visual acuity, and mobility (such as in fingers, hands, and wrists). When there is little money in the budget to replace all of the hardware, there are some fixes that can be done by getting plastic handles that fit over the round knobs with a lever-style handle. They don’t have quite the same look as a totally new handle, but they function essentially the same – often for less money. Keep an eye out for sales. Sometimes these can be obtained quite reasonably.
These three fixes will go a long way toward making dwellings safer and more livable for people.