We baby proof homes when toddlers are present, why aren’t we age proofing our homes as we age?
The word “Home” encompasses so many aspects of love, safety and security. In fact, it can be so all encompassing of safety that, Per Maya Angelo, “The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
But what happens when our “home” becomes an obstacle to living a full and meaningful life?
For the safe haven of home to exist, we must have control over the functionality of a home.
This includes the ease of amenities, staying in familiar or chosen neighborhoods and having help on hand, if needed. This control can create emotional security and a sense of permanence while also providing maximum functional benefits.
It’s important to remember that “home” is not static.
Rather, it is a constantly adapting phenomenon that changes with the needs and preferences of its occupants. Remember the baby proofing analogy? Sometimes we need to Age Proof it too. What worked when we first bought the home, may not, and doesn’t need to be, the way we do it as we age, or our abilities change.
Home Safety Assessments can help to anticipate changing or changed needs, especially when performed by an Occupational Therapist (OT)
By having an OT perform an assessment of your home, you can anticipate you and your homes needs as you age. OT’s recognize the home as a place of “doing.” This means it is the location where we complete everyday activities and some of our most meaningful and personal occupations occur.
A Home Safety Evaluation will include comprehensive assessments to identify and eliminate hazards as you age.
It will also include:
Consideration of a client health conditions and disABILITIES including range of motion, height, eye sight, reach range, sensation, strength, balance etc.
Comprehensive look at lighting, spaces, internal and external entrances, structural concerns, safety concerns such as clutter or floor coverings, it can also look at access to transportation or parking facilities.
Address integrity of floors, stairs, and other amenities.
The Occupational therapist may also consider the potential for modifications ranging from equipment use (such as bath chairs) all the way to total remodel of bathrooms or entrances.
It should conclude with a comprehensive list of findings and recommended suggestions and changes
It may Identify functional needs such as balance interventions and exercise training.
Home modifications have the potential to enhance the experience of the home and its occupants. ASSESSMENTS are often covered by Medicare and it is best to reach out to a professional if you have concerns about yourself, or a loved ones, ability to age gracefully in the home.
The home should change for our growing needs, we do not need to change our habits because of the home.