Attention older adults: AARP wants to know if your home is “HomeFit” and whether you plan to “age in place.”
“Aging in place” means that you can safely remain living in your home of choice for as long as you are able while maintaining your dignity and quality of life.
According to the senior-focused organization, the majority of Americans over 65 would prefer to live in their homes for as long as possible. To do this successfully, individuals must be able to move and function safely in their home setting as they age.
This often requires the help of home health professionals who play a key role in promoting independence and safety in performing essential daily tasks.
“One of the first goals of a home health therapist is to perform a home assessment to both determine how a senior functions in their home and ensure that the home is safe,” says Claire Sigal, Sharp Home Health senior specialist. “Once we assess a person’s abilities and needs, we can recommend changes to their home environment to improve their safety and make essential daily activities easier for them.”
Home health professionals will often make an initial home visit to determine a person’s fall risk and overall safety. Approximately half of all unintentional falls occur in the home, most during regular activities. A good place to begin the assessment is in the home’s entryways, stairs and hallways, where falls and injuries might occur.
A home health professional will check the following details:
Entryways and doors:
- Is there at least one step-free entrance into the home?
- If there are steps, are they in good condition, with handrails along the sides?
- Are thresholds free of clutter?
- Do doorways accommodate a walker or wheelchair?
- Can the person easily lock, unlock, open, close and walk through the doors?
- Is there space to maneuver while opening and closing doors?
- Does the front door have an accessible view panel or peephole?
- Are entrances well-lit, both on the interior and exterior?
- Are there handrails along the sides of stairways?
- Are stairways well-lit, and are there light switches at the top and bottom?
- Is the carpeting on the stairs in good condition?
- Do uncarpeted stairs have a nonslip surface?
- Are the stairs free of clutter?
- Are hallways well-lit, and are there light switches at both ends?
- Are hallway floors free of clutter and obstacles?
- Is carpeting in good condition?
- Do uncarpeted floors have a nonslip surface?
- Are area rugs secured to the floor?
Once the assessment is complete, recommendations for improvements can be made based on a person’s individual lifestyle, needs, activities, abilities, mobility and whether others are living in the home. The goal is to ensure that individuals’ needs are met, personal beliefs and wishes are respected, and quality of life is maintained as they age.
“We are passionate about helping those we work with stay in their home safely,” says Sigal. “We know that aging in place increases satisfaction with quality of life and decreases injuries, depression, recurring disability, hospitalizations and nursing home admission.”
This article is the first in a series on helping seniors age in place. Future articles will focus on senior safety in bathrooms and the kitchen, and will feature one family’s story about successfully helping their loved one age in place. More information on AARP’s HomeFit program can be found at aarp.org.
For the news media: For more information on aging in place for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.