Although there is a plethora of reasons seniors wish to age-in-place, perhaps the two most popular reasons are the desire to live in a familiar and comfortable environment, and more importantly, the desire to remain independent.
When designing and optimizing your elderly loved one’s house it is important to keep these two goals of aging-in-place in mind. In January, we began a blog series exploring smart modifications that can be made to make aging-in-place a safe and comfortable option for your loved one. We have covered the laundry room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room and common spaces.
This week in our blog we move to the last place in the house and a space that often gets neglected: the garage/carport. Even though the garage isn’t a high-use place it is equally important to the independence and safety of your senior because it is their hub to access the outside world. As with any room, the garage should ideally be located on the main floor of the house to keep access easy. With that being said, lets dig into some additional smart modifications that can be made to your loved one’s garage to keep it safe and accessible.
Let’s face it, often the garage becomes the storage room for all the furniture, knick knacks, odds-and-ends, tools and stuff we don’t have space for in the house. With all that stuff, the garage quickly can become a cluttered and dangerous environment.
Adding adjustable storage shelving, racks and tool storage will help keep the floor free of clutter and ensure your loved one has space to maneuver safely around the garage with a car parked in it. A convenient feature is to use storage shelves on rails with plastic totes. This will make it easy to keep the garage in order and allow your loved one to find stuff without much trouble.
In addition, if there are multiple vehicles in the garage, it is a good rule of thumb to keep at least 5 feet between each vehicle and the walls. This allows doors to be opened fully and helps your senior access the vehicle safely.
The Doors (No, not the band)
Entering and exiting the garage should be easy for your loved one. Man doors should be easy to open and lock. Ideally, these doors should have levers instead of knobs and should open fairly easily. Furthermore, make sure the doors are at least 36 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs easily. Finally, there should be a no step entry into the house to make it easier for your loved one to get inside. If there are steps, this can easily be accommodated with a ramp.
As for the garage door, it should be equipped with an automatic opener. To make it easy on your loved one you should consider investing in openers for each vehicle as well as a keyless pad entry in the off chance that the garage door opener cannot be found or does not work.
Light the Way
Most of the time garage lighting leaves a lot to be desired. Make sure your elderly loved one’s garage has plenty of light with light switches by each door. There are companies that make light switches that can be controlled by a smart phone. This will keep your loved one from having to get out of the car to shut the lights off when they leave.
Garage flooring is often a slick and unforgiving surface. This combination greatly increases the chance of a fall and fall-related injury. Using a non-slip grip additive in addition to SmartCells fall protection products will greatly reduce your loved one’s risk of a fall.
The unique SmartCells dual-stiffness technology provides stability for balance impaired persons and care givers, while at the same time providing life-saving cushioning to protect our loved ones when they fall.
SmartCells Fall Protection mats combine effectiveness with style and quality, including features like a low profile height (1/2”) and molded-in beveled edges which reduce tripping hazards and allow most wheeled objects to roll over the mat, without needing to move it out of the way.
SmartCells Fall Protection mats are available in a variety of colors (Black, Light Brown, and Grey) and configurations ranging from pre-sized mats (3×5 and 24×68) to build-your-own mats to fit custom-sized areas.
SmartCells Fall Protection flooring provides a cushioned sub-floor under selected commercial floor coverings.
SmartCells Fall Protection mats and flooring are made of latex-free rubber that will not absorb liquids, which reduces the risk of contamination and infection and allows them to be easily cleaned. Independent testing, using widely accepted protocols (ATSM F355 – 10a) indicates that SmartCells cushioning technology is 2 – 4 times more effective at attenuating impact forces than other products that are nearly twice as thick.
SmartCells Fall Protection: We’ll be there when you can’t be.