Aging in Place Products
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If you or your aging parent wants to age in place, you are not alone. 76% of people over the age of 50 say they want to stay in their home as they age. The desire to age in place and the reality of making that happen can be a bit of a shock and takes some planning and preparation. Most people don’t think about aging in place products until they need them. An accident or illness leaves you and your loved one scrambling to put things in place to stay safe. We have some suggestions for aging in place products to start with now and some future considerations.
You might have an impression of grab bars that are for older frail people and have an institutional look that detracts from the beauty of your home. The reality is that you might be a super athlete and have an accident where you suddenly need a way to bathe. Grab bars are the superpower of aging-in-place products because they do so much to ensure a safe entry and exit into a tub or shower.
An improperly installed grab bar is just as dangerous as not having one at all. An occupational therapist can assess your situation and recommend the proper placement of grab bars. You might be the DIY type, but we recommend a licensed contractor to install grab bars. Here are just a few examples of attractive grab bars that will complement any bathroom.
KOHLER CURVED GRAB BAR
MOEN ALIGN GRAB BAR
INVISIA LINEAR BAR- 12″ Straight Grab Bar: Brushed Stainless
Shower chairs come in a dizzying array of shapes and sizes, and the type you choose will depend on several factors. For someone who cannot get inside a tub, a transfer sliding shower bench is the best option. In a shower, depending on the size, a standard shower chair will work. Shower stools, although compact, are not as safe. Some people prefer a flip chair in a shower stall since it can be stored out of the way and is securely fastened to the wall. Below is an example of a flip chair and standard shower chair.
MOEN WALL-MOUNTED SHOWER SEAT
DRIVE SHOWER CHAIR WITH ARMS
If you need a shower chair for safety and stability, don’t forget about installing a detachable long-handled shower head and a reachable toiletry caddy.
Medical Alert Systems
For a family member who is at risk of falling and lives alone, medical alert systems are a must. But, they only work if the person wears them! Many medical alert systems are quite sophisticated, many with GPS. Be aware that some models require a landline phone to operate. Some older adults don’t like wearing a pendant, so something like an Apple Watch with fall detection could be an option.
Medication Management Systems
Medication errors can be costly. Confusion about what medications to take and when to take them, expired medications, and missing dosages are just a few problems. Medication management systems can be simple or very sophisticated. Some are organizers, and others have alarms, locks and can dispense up to four times a day.
Smart Home Devices
Smart home devices have gotten so complicated that the downside is you have to be smart to use them! Smart home devices can do everything from dimming your lights, controlling your temperature, locking your doors, and of course, voice-activated music and search features. Google and Amazon are the big players in the smart home device arena.
Other Age in Place Product Considerations
We have listed just a few basics, and there are other considerations for aging in place. Many older homes are multi-level, and if mobility is an issue, stair lifts might be the only way to get to laundry facilities and your bedroom. For someone in a wheelchair, a ramp for outside access to the front or back door might be necessary. You might need to widen doorways to accommodate a wheelchair and make kitchen modifications to make things easier to reach.
Most people don’t think about their outdoor environment and making that safe and accessible as well. If you enjoy gardening, you might want to make the walkways more user-friendly and invest in ergonomic gardening tools.
Aging in Place Products to Help You Age in Place
Our suggestions for aging in place products are just a beginning. New home construction is beginning to incorporate invisible accessibility design where wide doorways, no lip entry, and grab bars are “invisible” to the eye. But, in an older home, you will want to do a complete assessment of your unique situation and make changes that will ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for years to come.