Make home changes now to be safe as a se­nior

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - RETIREMENT LIFESTYLES - SAFE » PAGE 17

What home­owner, young or old, isn’t in­ter­ested in af­ford­able and func­tional home im­prove­ments that can be en­joyed for years to come? For se­niors 65 and older, well-thought-out ad­di­tions or up­grades are nec­es­sary for con­tin­ued com­fort and safety.

Ag­ing in place, or mod­i­fy­ing your home to bet­ter ac­com­mo­date chang­ing needs, can be a ma­jor un­der­tak­ing. Build­ing en­trance and ac­cess ramps, widen­ing en­trances and door­ways, adding a first­floor bed­room and bath, and other struc­tural ac­com­mo­da­tions can be costly. But many other op­tions that add both con­ve­nience and safety don’t re­quire ma­jor ex­pen­di­tures.

In­stalling grab bars in baths and bed­rooms to help with stand­ing and bal­ance, switch­ing to lever-han­dled door­knobs, low­er­ing elec­tri­cal switches and rais­ing elec­tri­cal out­lets are among the most fre­quently com­pleted non-bud­get-bust­ing projects, ac­cord­ing to the 2015 “Ag­ing in Place Sur­vey Re­port” from HomeAd­vi­sor. Re­plac­ing slip­pery tile or vinyl floor­ing with slip-re­sis­tant sur­faces is also a must as falls are among the lead­ing cause of in­jury to se­niors.

Ad­e­quate light­ing

Ad­e­quate light­ing is an im­por­tant health and safety con­sid­er­a­tion for se­niors, since vi­sion changes rapidly in our later years. Uni­ver­sal De­sign guide­lines call for in­creas­ing both task light­ing and gen­eral room il­lu­mi­na­tion as we age. Re­search pub­lished in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Oph­thal­mol­ogy sug­gests that nat­u­ral light may be bet­ter for ag­ing eyes than ar­ti­fi­cial light.

The health ben­e­fits of nat­u­ral light are well doc­u­mented, from boost­ing your body’s abil­ity to pro­duce vi­ta­min D to helping im­prove mood and fight sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der (SAD). Nat­u­ral light also en­hances vir­tu­ally any decor, while helping re­duce de­pen­dence on ar­ti­fi­cial light and low­er­ing elec­tric­ity bills.

In­creased ven­ti­la­tion

In­door air qual­ity, ac­cord­ing to an EPA study,

can be worse than the air out­side your home, and many peo­ple spend as much as 90 per­cent of their time in­doors. Poor in­door air qual­ity has been linked to res­pi­ra­tory prob­lems, eye ir­ri­ta­tion, headaches and even de­pres­sion.

Adding sky­lights is one of the eas­i­est, most cost-ef­fec­tive ways to achieve bal­anced, glare-free nat­u­ral light, as well as pas­sive ven­ti­la­tion, in vir­tu­ally any space. En­ergy Star-qual­i­fied, so­lar-pow­ered, fresh air sky­lights, like those from Velux Amer­ica, bring home­own­ers the health and func­tional ben­e­fits of en­hanced nat­u­ral light and fresh air at an af­ford­able price.

Fur­ther en­hance the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and aes­thetic ap­peal of sky­lights by adding so­lar-pow­ered blinds in de­signer col­ors and pat­terns. The sky­lights, which close au­to­mat­i­cally in case of rain, and blinds, are op­er­ated by a pro­gram­mable re­mote con­trol. Both prod­ucts, plus the in­stal­la­tion costs, are el­i­gi­ble for a 30 per­cent fed­eral tax credit. Learn more at www.whysky­lights.com.

Home mon­i­tor­ing and se­cu­rity

Other op­tions that ad­dress func­tion­al­ity and liv­ing safely, in­de­pen­dently and com­fort­ably in­clude home au­to­ma­tion sys­tems and Smart Home tech­nolo­gies, se­cu­rity sys­tems, in­home health and ac­tiv­ity mon­i­tor­ing to de­tect falls, and cell phone apps that con­trol ther­mostats, light­ing and other sys­tems in the home. Ad­di­tional re­sources are avail­able at the HomeAd­vi­sor “Ag­ing in Place” site.

When is the best time to plan for a long life as a se­nior? Marty Bell, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Na­tional Ag­ing in Place Coun­cil, sums it up nicely in the 2015 re­port:

“Too many of us wait un­til we reach a health or fi­nan­cial cri­sis to plan for get­ting older. We plan our ca­reers, we plan to send our chil­dren to col­lege, we plan our va­ca­tions, but we don’t plan to age. And yet the ev­i­dence is there that those who do ac­cept they are go­ing to get older, and make plans in ad­vance, have a con­sid­er­ably bet­ter later life.”

BRAND­POINT

En­joy easy-on-the-eyes bal­anced nat­u­ral light and pas­sive ven­ti­la­tion with En­ergy Star­qual­i­fied so­lar pow­ered fresh air sky­lights.

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