Lately I’ve been working with many seniors who need modifications to their homes. The common thread is expense vs. return on investment – some Seniors see living in their own home as the only option for a happy life. Even if they are wheelchair bound, or suffering from other maladies that would benefit greatly from some simple grab bar and handrail additions, to a walk in shower, and possibly even a stair chair.
What amazes me is that Seniors and their families are so attracted to walk-in tubs, which I believe are inherently unsafe. These ‘little’ items can cost up to $20,000 to install, while a complete ADA compliant bathing solution and remodeling the entire room would cost less than a “jump” in tub. These tubs require a step up – even two inches can be really difficult for an elderly person. One manufacturer’s web site even shows all the tubs with cross handle fixtures! Putting in lever handle faucets is one of the most important and simplest thing to do for yourself.
A good assessment and review of the home can expose details about where grab bars would work, and sometimes these are placed in garages, laundry rooms, kitchens, and of course, bathrooms. There are many, many options for beautiful grab bars. One thing to be aware of when installing grab bars is to know the weight of the person using the bar. Then check with the manufacturer to make sure the maximum weight it can hold, and choose the right brand. Anti-bacteria molded plastic over stainless steel is the best solution. Basic white costs just as much as a range of colors if you choose Ponte Giulio, Hewi (from Hafele) or “Great Grabz” styles.
Take into consideration the height of the client as well. While standards are standards, it doesn’t help to have a grab bar too high for a petite woman to hold comfortably. Right height the bars by taking the client into the room, and mark the heights on the tile or walls before drilling any holes.
For multiple grab bars, it should take one or two days to install up to 20. Then there will be patching and painting for any walls where a hole must be cut in the sheet rock to provide the proper backing per the manufacturers (and best practice) instructions.
September 23rd was Fall Prevention Awareness Day (yes, it has a day!). Thought I’d post a reminder about how to avoid falls in the home. Especially if you are an older adult, falls can trigger many different issues, and fall related injuries and deaths are a significant health hazard for the 60+ generations. I myself happen to fall down a lot, people that know me know that. My equilibrium is just a little off balance. My falls usually take place out biking or hiking, on stairs or sandy streets, places like that. But one night I did tumble out of bed, stand up, lost my balance and slammed my face into the wall. I actually got a black eye. And it was all because my feet got tangled up in the bed clothes.
My very vibrant and active 86 years young Aunt recently fell twice in one day, and had to be put in the hospital. She is now in Assisted Living, where she NEVER wanted to be. Why did she fall? She slipped on a throw rug next to the seat where she has her phone. Every one in the family had been telling her to get rid of the rugs. She has a slight case of Parkinson’s Disease, and now will need full time care at home IF she is able to return home. This is devastating news for the family and for our beloved Aunt.
You know that environmental hazards in and around the home can increase the risk for falls at all ages. The majority of falls for older adults occur inside or just outside the home. Addressing some of these risk factors can help prevent accidental falls:
› Stairways without railings
› Bathtubs and showers without grab bars
› Furniture that is too high or too low for an individual to get up from or on to safely
› Throw rugs that slide
› Cluttered pathways
› Loose carpeting
› Wet floors
› Icy or wet pavement outside the house
Just a few tips for you. Be Safe!