My dad and I have been working very hard to try to renovate his apartment. It’s a small, one bedroom apartment that my grandparents bought post-WWII and unfortunately, time has taken its toll on it. The building is old & broken down enough that a few years ago, there was the talk of taking it down altogether, but those plans were halted and will unlikely resurface until another 20 years have passed.
So meanwhile, we’ve decided to make the space comfortable and livable, especially as my father is no longer the young pup he once was. Now, he may have been a former superman (former military officer & aeronautical mechanic), but he’s nearing 70 years old, and it’s my goal to make sure he is living in a safe environment.
That means making some obligatory changes to the apartment to make it safe for him to live there.
One of the first changes we have decided on is to take down the tub in the bathroom and install one of the latest walk in showers, like one featured in the image below. Having fallen myself in the tub at one point (and consequently, fracturing my ribs + damaging muscle tissue), I’m very scared of the possibility of my dad stepping in or out of the tub and falling. It’s a reality that happens to the elderly all the time, even when there’s a small step to get into the shower. So we’ve decided to go all out, handle bars and all, to ensure maximum safety.
The shower will be an investment to handle but it’s 100% worth his safety. (Speaking from a financial standpoint, any medical bills if – God forbid – something happens, will be far more expensive than taking down the tub and replacing it with an easy-access shower).
Next, up, would be fall-proofing the rest of the apartment. According to Colorado State University, because older bones are less dense, a simple fall that would cause a bruise on a younger person, can become a serious disabling injury to a senior citizen. Not to mention that senses, judgment, reaction time and physical abilities all decline drastically with age. It’s important that we take on a few precautions to make sure my dad is safe at all times.
To decrease his chances of tripping or falling in the apartment, I’m ensuring that the floor is leveled everywhere (a few tiles have broken or sunk in). I will be removing the faulty tiles and replace them with new ones myself (DIY to the rescue!). I’m also removing any useless pieces of furniture or random items that he’s collected over the years which are unnecessarily taking up space and preventing him from walking comfortably in his own apartment.
My third goal is to then make everything easy to reach. As of the moment, cupboards and cabinets are not easy to open and also require my dad to bend over to get plates, cups and frying pans, as well as bathroom items. In all likelihood, I will replace all the cabinets and cupboards to eye level and place all often-used items there for easy accessibility. Anything that is not needed on a daily basis can go in lower or higher storage spaces.
My fourth, but maybe one of the most simple, yet important goals: to change the lighting in the apartment. My dad is stubborn when it comes to lighting. Because it’s an older apartment, the allocations of electric lighting are all wrong, causing dim lighting in areas and strong shadows in other. NIH Senior Health says it themselves: “poor lighting […] can increase your risk of falls.” A few changes in lamp placements and light bulbs will make all the difference.
If you’re looking to also “seniorize” your home to make it safe for the elderly, the show KCET has a very thorough list of ways you can do so.
I’m taking things step by step so I’m not overwhelmed emotionally, physically or financially. I recommend you do the same.
Have you made any changes to make a home safer for your family or for the elderly? I would love some input!
Thanks to FreePik.com for the non-edited version of the featured image.