At Honor, we’re like most families. When we have a relative who’s an expert, that’s the first person we go to for good advice.
We recently learned that Gail Lamkins, mother of Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins Honor’s head of care, had upgraded her home to make it safer and more comfortable as she ages with diabetes. Of course, we jumped at the opportunity to pick her brain on the topic.
Gail’s professional experience managing the Solano County Public Guardian’s program prepared her well to assess her own living space for safety risks and health needs. “You don’t have to bring in a contractor and remodel to make your home a lot safer and more comfortable,” Gail said. “Making small, simple changes at home can be as helpful as big, expensive ones.”
Her ideas for helpful, easy DIY home upgrades fall into three categories: safety, comfort, and peace of mind. “Sometimes just feeling safer—and making changes that reduce your worries and anxiety—means being safer.”
Peace of Mind
• Install motion-sensor lights outside the house near doors and other points of entry.
• Add an extra lock to the front and back doors.
• Keep emergency numbers for doctors, family members, and home care professionals posted near each phone in the home, just in case.
• Install a Comfort Height toilet or elevated toilet seat to make sitting and standing easier.
• Downsize to smaller garbage and recycling bags inside the house that you can easily carry to your bins outside.
• Call your sanitation company to request smaller garbage and recycling bins. (They’re easier to maneuver and may even save you money.)
• Use the speaker option on your phone to amplify sound if hearing is a problem.
• If mobility is difficult, move your mailbox from the curb to the front door.
• Remove throw rugs and any other tripping hazards.
• Install grab bars in the bathroom. (Check the fine print in your health-insurance policy. This may be covered.)
• Add nightlights in the bedroom and along the path to the bathroom.
• Adhere non-slip strips or add a non-slip mat on the floor inside the shower or bathtub to reduce the chances of falling.
• If climbing stairs is challenging, relocate the bedroom to the main floor of the house if you can.
• Move or adjust power cords that might create a tripping hazard.
• Install non-skid tread to exterior steps.
“If you’re going to spend money on any home remodeling, make it your shower,” Gail added. “By removing the shower curb and replacing glass doors with a curtain, getting in and out becomes much easier and safer—and even allows for wheelchair access if you need it in the future.”
Phaedra, Gail’s daughter, nodded and smiled proudly. “Owning the aging process can be transformative. People choosing to live in their house—and being proactive about safety and comfort like my mom—that’s owning it.”