MOVING AROUND IN THE HOME
Day-to-day living means making frequent visits to many parts of your home, and less frequent trips to others. Knowing how and when you use your home will inform smart choices in lighting, pathway design and how you organize the things you use and enjoy. Here are some tips to help:
- Single Floor Living: Single floor living is frequently recommended as a solution when you age at home. Having your bedroom on the same level as your front door, bathroom and kitchen reduces the risk of falls and injury on stairs.
- Door Handles: Lever door handles should be installed wherever possible. This allows operation by those with arthritic hands. They are also useful before you have support needs at home. You’ll find you can open with a leg if you’re carrying things in your hands and do not have a space to put them down.
- Doorways: Doorways should be wide enough to accommodate the width of a walker or wheelchair. At least 24” wide is recommended. Users of walkers should not be placed in a position where they have to shuffle sideways through a doorway.
A sturdy table by the front door can be handy to support someone if they need to get in and out of a wheelchair. It’s also useful to place mail, keys and other items when entering.
- Pathways: Loose rugs, clutter and power cords should be removed from pathways. Transition strips are useful when added to thresholds to reduce fall risk.
- Lighting: Pathways should be well lit but should not be so strong as to produce glare. A minimum of 75W of lighting per room is recommended. At night, soft motion-activated lighting is useful to support transfers from bedrooms to bathrooms.
Light switches themselves can be changed to glow at night to help with identification and operation. Switches that are large and can be operated by tapping versus gripping are recommended.
- Stairways: Objects should never be placed or stored on stairs. Weight-bearing handrails should be placed on either side of the stairway to assist ascent and descent. Any loose carpet should be removed or securely nailed down. To the degree possible, those climbing stairs should do so with nothing else held in their hands. Light switches should be placed at the top and bottom of stairways.