April 17, 2023
Pankaj Patel, Blogger, Full-time Real Estate Broker
Aging affects each individual differently. Some seniors experience physical limitations that seriously affect their level of activity while others are able to remain quite active. The natural process of growing older, however, generally includes changes in abilities. If you're experiencing some of the problems associated with the changes described below, consult your health professional and make sure you undertake whatever changes or adaptations will help you cope and compensate.
Eyes take longer to adjust from dark to light and vice versa, and become more sensitive to glare from sunlight or unshielded light bulbs. There is a decline in depth perception that can make it hard to judge distances. Perceiving contrasts and colours can also be more difficult.
Touch, Smell and Hearing
Sensitivity to heat, pain and pressure decreases; this may make it more difficult to detect a liquid's temperature or changes in ground or floor surfaces. Sense of smell diminishes, making it harder to smell spoiled food, leaking gas and smoke. Hearing loss can result in difficulty hearing telephones, doorbells, smoke alarms, etc.; it can also result in a decrease in balance, which can make falling more likely.
Bones naturally become less dense and weaker with age. Bone loss (osteoporosis) among seniors can be worsened by lack of exercise and nutritional deficiencies. Bone loss can lead to painful fractures, disfigurement, lowered self-esteem and a reduction or loss of mobility.
Balance and Gait
Balance is a complex function involving eyes, inner ear, muscular strength and joint flexibility. Any one of these can change as a result of aging. A general decline in equilibrium can make it more difficult to maintain or recover balance, meaning that a slip or trip can become a fall. The speed of walking, the height to which the heels are lifted, and the length of a person's stride can change with age. These changes can make it more likely for someone to experience a fall.
In general, sharp brains tend to stay sharp. Cognitive processing and memory may take a bit longer, but this is a normal effect of aging. This is why it's important to make lists and keep phone numbers handy.
Most seniors develop effective coping mechanisms as they age. Being aware of the normal changes of aging allows you to plan for home and lifestyle adaptations that will help you retain your health, quality of life and independence.
Keeping Your Home Safe
Injuries can result from seemingly innocent things around your home—many of which are easily fixed or adapted after you do some alteration or necessary renovations to make your home safe and age friendly.
Aging in place" is a phrase that Canadians are hearing more and more, and it may influence how they design their homes. The idea here is to age in place with your loved ones rather than in a retirement home, nursing home, or assisted living facility. As people age, their needs change, and so may your home. An occupational therapist (OT) can assess your needs and help you make the necessary changes so you can live independently in your home. Here are some suggestions to keep you safe at home.
Accessible entrance: Creating an accessible entrance is the first step in aging in place. The ideal location for your front door is flush with the entranceway and well-lit. Railings should be firmly fastened on either side of any stairs. Consider the adjustments that would be necessary to install a ramp.
Futuristic renovations: Consider a few small additions while making improvements to make it easier to age in place and safe to use. To accommodate wheelchairs or walkers, replacement doors must be at least 36 inches (90 cm) wide. A curb should not be installed in a new shower to make it easier to enter. Consider installing a bidet as a sanitary, hands-free alternative to a regular toilet.
Fixtures for the Elderly: Lever-style faucet handles are easier to use than grab handles. It is preferable to install security cameras that are activated by voice or motion. They are useful for washing dirty hands while cooking, and they are a pain-free option if you develop arthritis later in life.
Adequate lighting: Adequate lighting in the kitchen helps to safely chop food and perform other kitchen tasks. Smart home systems eliminate the need to enter a dark space and risk tripping by using voice activation and simple lighting control.
Few handful tips to make your home more safe and may prevent fall and injuries.
- Install a seat at the entrance of your home to remove or put on your shoes and boots.
- Avoid throw rugs and scatter mats. They're dangerous!
- To help avoid taking a misstep, you can paint wooden or concrete steps with a strip of contrasting colour on the edge of each step or on the top and bottom steps.
- To remember to test your smoke detector twice a year, make a habit of testing it when you turn your clocks forward in the spring and back in the fall.
- Some tile and bath cleaning products actually increase slipperiness. Be careful when using such products.
- Use heat-resistant oven mitts rather than potholders; they provide a better grip on hot containers and give you better protection against splatters and steam. If you do experience a burn, immerse in cool water (not ice or butter!).
- Make sure your bed is not too high or low, so that it is easy to get in and out of it. You can purchase short bed rails to steady yourself when getting out of bed.
- When you use a ladder, never stand or sit on the top three rungs. Maintain your balance by keeping your body centred between the rails, not reaching to the sides and not pushing or pulling on anything.
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