Adapting your Home for Aging in Place- Part 1

Design Time on WMEN

April 2021

TV5 Design Time WNEM

Adapting your Home for Aging

As we age, we start to think of things differently..simple things like getting in and out of a car, going up and down steps, slipping and falling.....and stability!  

Life definitely changes as we age!  

 

Today we want to talk about things that we might think about that will make it easier for us to stay in our homes.

Kathy, when selecting furniture, what should we be considering?

I would tell anyone buying new furniture to first and foremost buy furniture that FITS you! I know you love your kids or your best friend who is shorter or taller than you, but if those family members or friends want the best for you, then they want you to be healthy and comfortable. Using furniture that is too big or too deep for your body is never healthy. If you are not sitting properly or able to get up from where you are, you are doing more damage to your health. 

First, THINK WHERE YOU SIT or WANT TO SIT...That may be a chair or a recliner or maybe even the sofa.

  • Whatever you pick, does that seat fit you?

  • Can you sit down without dropping into the seat? 

  • Do you get proper back support? 

  • Is the seat too deep? 

  • Do you have good arm support? 

  • Do you have good back support? 

  • Are able to open and close the recliner? 

  • Does the chair swivel? Is that a good idea with your balance? 

  • Does the chair rock? Is that a good idea when getting up?

  • Do you have proper leg support and/or leg height when raised? 

  • Can you get out of the chair/ seat properly? 

These are all questions you should ask yourself or your loved one. Do not be overwelled with replacing everything in your living room. Allow your best friend to still sit on the sofa that is too deep for you. If the budget does not allow for a room makeover, only replace where you sit and what you need. Buy well, so you will not be disappointed with the comfort in the near future. We are aging, but we still want every moment we have left to be enjoyable. 

We have seen our grandparents have the need for a lift chair, which has to do with the ability to get out of the chair.........and we don’t want to think about needing that...but when should we consider that need?

Lift chairs are purchased at all ages. I know my daughter told me she wished she had one when she was pregnant. You do not have to be "old" to purchase or want a lift chair. You may have had an accident or surgery and you now need temporary or forever a little help getting up. It doesn't mean that your knees or legs have to be "out of service" maybe your arms don't have the strength they use to. You use your arms just as much to stand up as your legs. I guarantee that is true for a 25-year-old as it is a 65-year-.old.

When you are no longer able to stand up on your own you should consider a lift chair. They are able to be raised as little or as much to a standing position. Sometimes we just need an extra 2 inches in the arms to "push off" of to get to a standing position. Raising the chair up that little bit may be all you need. 

Having the power feature also is a must with a lift chair. You most likely no longer have the strength to push down a recliner footrest with your feet, therefore you are "trapped" with your feet up and can not get out of the chair. Many times with aging health there may be bathroom issues, so being stuck in a chair could scare the individual enough that they never put their feet up- which may be very unhappy for their health.

 

Power lift chairs...

  • come with a battery so if the power goes out, you are able to still get down and out of the chair. 

  • often come with simple remotes to not be difficult in the operations or they can come with many features that give you exact comfort with powerhead tilt, lumbar support, leg raise level, heat and massage. 

  • come in all sizes and widths so you can fit your seat, headrest, leg length and weight.

  • can start at $1000 for an American Made recliner that is very good quality, so don't be afraid of the price. Most power recliners run that same price without the lift. 

Anything else that would be helpful for the long haul with furniture in our Livingroom?

Other quick tips to think about or help your aging family member think about would be....

  • Rugs: these may be large accent rugs or smaller by a door for dirt. Just know that all rugs can be a tripping hazard. 

  • The scale of furniture for fitting the room: The physical space of the furniture may need to be smaller depending on easy movement through the space. If a wheel chair or walker is added into the space, new  furniture may be needed due to needing a smaller scale sofa or chair 

  • Legs on chair or sofa: These legs may be able to be changed out allowing the sofa to remain the same, but adding a taller leg will get the extra height the client needs. 

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