By Stuart MacMillan, CSA, CAPS
Surveys show that 90% of us want to age in place, and that usually means staying in the home we live in now. Two important reasons for this are that we are happiest staying in our homes, and the healthier and happier we are as we grow older, the lower the cost to us, our families, and society.
As a PNA Village member like you I share this goal. It’s something I’ve been involved in for several years with my family, and it’s now a part of my profession.
There are three levels of home modifications that will make life easier and safer as you age in your home: Those that are easy and cost nothing, those that cost a few hundred dollars, and those that involve major remodeling to adapt to disabilities. This is the first in a series of articles that will discuss each level.
We’ll start with the simple things you can do right now that won’t cost you anything!
First, do a room by room assessment. As you go around your home, keep in mind that the less you have in a room, the safer your environment becomes. Look carefully for tripping hazards, since injuries resulting from falls are the number one reason we cannot stay at home. Remove throw rugs, fix any raised carpet edges or thresholds, and attach any loose carpet on stairs. Move or eliminate oversized or poorly positioned furniture so you have open walk areas, and reduce clutter. Make sure any bathroom rugs have a non-slip backing. If you need help with this assessment just call the PNA Village office (206.789.1217) for assistance.
Next, organize your kitchen and bathroom cabinets, pantry, laundry, and other frequently used storage areas. Move items you use frequently to convenient locations and eliminate the things you rarely or never use. To avoid confusion, get rid of medicines you no longer need. Most pharmacies will take your unneeded medicines for disposal; do not throw them in the garbage or flush them down the toilet.
Always make safety a priority. Be sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (they all have test buttons), check that your windows and doors lock properly, and make sure entryways, stairs, and hallways are well-lit. Check that the doorbell works and is loud enough to hear.
Now is the time to have your furnace checked! This isn’t free, but it’s important to do every year. There are vetted heating contractors on the PNA Village Preferred Vendor List you can call.
Last, the Seattle Public Utilities waste collectors will come into your yard to collect your garbage and recycling bins at no extra charge if hauling them to the curb is difficult for you. Call 206.684.3000 to request this service.
In the next newsletter I’ll discuss some low and moderate cost things you can do to make your home safe and comfortable as you age.
May we all live a long, happy, healthy and independent life in our homes!