By Linda H. Lamb
“A lot of folks … are looking at downsizing,” Cobb said. “That’s a great time to think about things like fewer steps, wider doorways, safety and access in bathrooms.”
Statistics back up the need for greater awareness about home safety—especially to prevent falls. Falls are the top cause of injury deaths among older adults, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and half of them happen at home.
“It’s hard to think about possibly being disabled in the future,” said Mary Alice Bechtler, a program coordinator with the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program. But one area where older adults often recognize hazards is the bathroom, she said.
“You don’t want to be grabbing the towel rack, which probably will go down with you,” said Bechtler. Instead, a properly installed grab bar is far safer, she said. She advises people to look for a contractor certified by the National Association of Home Buildersas an “aging-in-place specialist” when considering major renovations.
“Bathrooms are by far the most common things that we deal with,” said Tim Kehoe of Kehoe Constructors in Lexington, a certified aging-in-place specialist for about three years.Grab bars are among the least expensive solutions for bathroom safety, Kehoe said. Some manufacturers make bars that coordinate nicely with your decor.
If you are considering a fancy walk-in tub, however, be prepared to make a major investment. They can cost $10,000 to $20,000 installed, he said.
More safety tips“For a lot of folks, cost is a problem,” Cobb said. But AARP and safety experts have many good ideas that aren’t so expensive.
- Add lighting, especially to stairs and work areas, and use rocker light switches that move easily.
- Use large drawer knobs that are easier for people with arthritis to grasp.
- Install nonslip tub decals, bath seating and a handheld shower attachment.
For more information about upcoming Home Fit presentations and ideas about home safety the AARP South Carolina website.