No matter how hard we try to keep ourselves strong and fit, almost all of us lose some degree of strength and dexterity as we age. It may get a little harder to lift a cooked dish out of the oven, to button a shirt or to carry a bag of groceries.
The problem is even worse for frail adults who may have had several impairments over the years and for those who have osteoporosis or other diseases that can sap bone and muscle strength. They are more likely to fall – and the results can be serious. Depending on the level of the problem, there are a number of solutions to address issues of strength, dexterity and reach.
See which ones will help you or a loved one create a more functional and comfortable home.
1. Replace round doorknobs with lever handles. Round doorknobs pose problems for many people who have arthritis, limited strength or difficulty grasping. Lever handles also benefit small children or anyone who may have their hands full.
2. Install a built-in wall oven at counter height to reduce the need to bend over to move hot, heavy pans.
3. To put more shelves within easy reach, lower overhead kitchen cabinets to 15 inches above the counter instead of the standard 18 – 24 inches.
4. Buy a side-by-side, self-defrosting refrigerator-freezer, accessible to people with limited reach, including wheelchair users. Some persons may find a freezer at the bottom more convenient.
5. Install the garbage disposal switch at the front of the counter.
6. Consider whether a sink with side-mounted faucets would be easier to use for persons with limited reach, such as wheelchair users.
7. Mount the medicine cabinet in the bathroom on the side of the sink at counter height to increase the visibility of contents and to make items more accessible.
For more tips and ideas to make your home more comfortable, convenient and safe, download or order our free guidebook Simple Solutions. You’ll be glad you did!
Beth Tracton-Bishop, PhD, Director of Research and Gerontologist at The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, is responsible for developing and executing qualitative and quantitative research studies related to older driver safety, home design and family transitions, with a focus on translating research findings to consumer based information and public education campaigns.
She also leads the center’s social media strategy, and is the micro-blogger for twitter.com/TheHartfordCMME.
Keep Reading: Step Up Your Ladder Safety