Sometimes there is an urgency in creating solutions, especially when providing for traumatic injuries or when safety issues need to addressed in a more immediate way. Otherwise, a more strategic approach may be appropriate to accomplish what is needed in a more budget-friendly, less intrusive way.
Items that could be completed as part of this initial first phase of relatively minor, but necessary, would be swapping out all of the toggle-style light switches for rocker, push button, or torch ones. Switches that use dimmer switches or pre-selected timers also are fine to install at this time. Even motion sensor switches that are activated by someone entering a room would be a good addition. Completing these improvements would require just a simple knowledge of electricity.
Replacing lightbulbs throughout the home with LED bulbs and fixtures is an easy task to complete to create more even and dependable lighting, and it can be done over a few weeks if budget is a concern. The color output and the amount of lumens vary by the bulb selected, but the main thing is to offer as much light as possible in a space and eliminate shadows or areas of low illumination. This is both a safety and comfort issue in a home.
A similar replacement that will help throughout the home - and one that can be phased if budget is a concern - is changing out all door handles that are not the lever-style with ones that are. The occupants of the home have their choice of colors and finishes to fit their personal tastes or decor. If this project already has been done, the kitchen cabinets and drawers can have the handles and pulls replaced with something relatively easy to grasp and use. Be careful of sharp or extending edges on the handles that might catch on skin or clothing if someone brushes against them.
There are many other smaller projects like these that can be suggested by us and undertaken by the owners, subject to their ability to do them, to begin making a huge difference in the quallity of the home and the way it lives.
Larger scale projects involving the kitchen (cabinets, islands, counterspace, appliances, and flooring) and bath (shower, drains, other fixtures, and flooring), as well as other parts of the home including windows, flooring, and general layout can be planned and undertaken later - even in stages if necessary for budget reasons or to keep the disruption to a minimum - if the needs are not immediate.
Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.