Making a home comfortable for everyone who lives there involves more than choosing a decorating scheme and furniture. Think of including features to the rooms that make them livable and function for everyone. Whether they’re a toddler crawling on the floor, a convalescing teenager with a soccer injury or an older adult with disability issues, a home should be adaptable and adjustable to different life stages so everyone can move around freely and safely.
Good lighting and mobility are key ingredients that make a room functional for all family members. And these features can prevent falling, the most common cause of household accidents for every age group. General lighting throughut the house creates overall illumination and task lighting directs the right amount of light for a specific job whether it’s at the mirror in the bathroom, prepping food in the kithchen or navigating in the night from the car to the door. Everyday tasks like reading in a comfortable chair or typing on a laptop require a light that is bright enough so you don’t strain your eyes and is directed at the task.
Outside the home lighting creates a safe environment, prevents accidents and it’s also a deterrent to intruders.
Here are ways to add lighting in different areas of a home for a variety of tasks.
- Add a plug-in-the-wall nightlight to bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways to provide safe footing in the dark with no surprises. For a permanent installation add an electrical receptacle with a LED (light emitting diode) that is controlled by a photo sensor. It turns on in the dark and off in daylight automatically.
- Make it easy to plug into electrical outlets by installing them 24 inches from the floor so you can reach them without bending down.
- Replace a standard light switch with a "rocker" style switch. Other types operate with a touch pad that responds to your finger: slide it up and the light goes on; slide it down and the light dims.
- At stairs leading to an attic or basement install a sensor that turns the switch into a motion-sensing switch to light the space.
Following are easy ways to make everyday tasks and moving about comfortable and safe for everyone.
- Replace a kitchen or bathroom sink faucet with a hands-free style faucet that has a proximity sensor and turns the water on and off without touching it.
- On a bathtub or shower wall install a grab bar or grab bar shelf to prevent falling and assure safe footing. To prevent scalding add a pressure balance temperature control faucet.
- In the kitchen add under counter lights to the bottom of cabinets for safe food preparation, especially when cutting vegetables.
- Replace knob cabinet hardware in the kitchen with D-shaped handles for more comfortable use, especially if those hands are arthritic.
- Make closets more accessible with adjustable shelving and lighting so items can be easily identified and reached.
- To make it easy to move around in the most used rooms, declutter and purge furniture and items that are not being used on a regular basis.
- To prevent tripping use u-shaped staples to secure extension and appliance cords to base shoe molding; use cord managers and covers to eliminate a tangle of electronics cables and wires.
- Secure small "scatter" rugs with a rug grip or rug tape and never position them at the top or bottom of a staircase. Area rugs look nice but consider they are obstacles for a toddler’s scooter or senior’s walker.
- Add a second hand rail on staircases so going up or down there are two sides for safety.
- Choose bruise-proof furniture with round edges instead of pointed angles that can harm a baby or bruise an adult’s hip.
- For someone with mobility issues raise the height of their favorite chair with a large cushion so it is not as difficult to use.
- Secure a not-so-sturdy shelving unit to the wall with an anti-tip strap or furniture bracket so no one is harmed if it’s bumped or a child tries to climb up the shelving.
Outside the house
- Prevent a tripping accident by providing bright, glare-free lighting along outdoor walkways to provide stumble-free paths.
- Light up front, back and side door entrances with a motion sensing security light and trim away shrubbery surrounding the house.
- Anyone can stumble on a debris-filled path so keep the area clean and clutter-free.
- Anyone can stub their toe on a nail head protruding from a loose deck board. Remove the nail and refasten it with wood screws to secure it properly.
Gene and Katie Hamilton are the creators of www.Diyornot.com and write Do It Yourself Or Not, a weekly column syndicated by Tribune Content Agency.
Photo credit: Armstrong