Senior Homes

8 Things Every Senior Needs in Their Home

The best years are still ahead. As American healthcare, diet, and personal habits improve (less smoking, more exercise, and smarter decisions), we can expect a much longer and rewarding senior life. The famous songs speak of the “autumn of our years,” but will that autumn be spent enjoying life as an independent adult? Here are basic suggestions that are not expensive or difficult to have in your home. These eight important and practical reminders can help you plan ahead.

  1. A working telephone: Sound obvious? Think again. You need a basic phone that you know how to use without even thinking about it. Having the latest technology is not always the most practical decision that we can make. It is more important to have a telephone that we know how to use than a telephone that cooks dinner and cleans the windows. All those “bells and whistles” in modern technology can be wonderful, but complex technology can be difficult. And the time it takes to learn to use complicated technology can be frustrating. Of course, your kids wanted you to have the “latest toy,” but your first concern is pretty basic — can I make calls quickly and easily when I need to? Better yet, make sure that there is more than one phone throughout the house.
  2. A list of important phone numbers: Your list should include not only the kids, but the neighbors. Not only the doctor or ambulance (those are obvious, right?), but the numbers of a few grocery stores and drug stores that deliver. And never be too proud to keep numbers of services that you may believe you will never need — Meals on Wheels or private meal services, local Bus services that pick up and take you where you need to go, and the local library. Oh, and don’t forget a beautician who enjoys working with older women — there will be days or events when you want some help to look your best.
  3. Extra bars and rails: Accessibility and ease of getting around can be absolutely essential to an independent life. Invest in some bars and rails, especially in high traffic areas like the bathroom and kitchen. Everyone puts rails in the obvious places — by stairs and hallways. But rails can be important in the bathroom and kitchen as well. Yes, they might not be the most decorative addition to your home, but this is about quality of life and continued independence. The first time you stop yourself from a fall, the decorations won’t be the first thing on your mind.
  4. Some form of emergency contact system: There are many companies in business now that feature a “panic button” — devices that seniors can wear around their neck or wrist, and can be pushed easily even after a fall. These devices may not even be your idea of the best investment, but your relatives will thank you every week for their peace of mind. It is one of those things that you can pretend is for you. On the other hand, it just might save your life.
  5. First aid kit in the kitchen, not only bathroom: Everyone keeps first aid kits in the bathroom. Strange idea. How many times have you been cut by toilet paper? Keep a first aid kit in the kitchen — you know, where the knives are and where glass breaks. You get the idea. You don’t want to try to run to the bathroom.
  6. Good lighting inside and out: One important key to independent living is the possibility that nights will be spent alone, or with only one other person in the home. Feeling safe is often a matter of clear visibility throughout the house, and around the outside of the house. Investing in good lighting is not expensive or complicated, but can be a very reassuring presence.
  7. A few more expensive possibilities: Of course, there are more expensive considerations — a walk-in shower to replace a bathtub can contribute much more independence and security. As seniors, the ability to still take good care of yourself contributes to a sense of wellbeing and independence.
  8. You are still living your life! Keep up!: The last point may not seem so obvious, but research tells us that it is. Keep the mind busy and active. Puzzles, word games, correspondence — but at the very least, subscribe to the daily newspaper and keep up with your favorite magazines, especially connected to current events, and publications related to your hobbies or even your former profession. Know what’s going on, and what you might want to attend locally.