Home Modifications for People Living with Obesity
According to Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), obesity impacts one in three Americans. It is estimated that more than 93 million Americans are affected by obesity, with that number predicted to rise to 120 million in the next five years. Within this population, it is estimated that 8-10 million Americans are affected by severe obesity – a disease characterized by an individual being 100 pounds or more over their ideal body weight.
Obesity has been defined by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 and above. For example, a BMI of 30 is about 30 pounds overweight. The BMI, a key index for relating body weight to height, is a person's weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared. Since the BMI describes the body weight relative to height, it correlates strongly (in adults) with the total body fat content.
Although obesity is a complex, multifactoral, and chronic disease that requires a comprehensive medical approach to care, obesity is fundamentally a medical condition resulting from an imbalance of caloric input versus caloric burn. People living with obesity can have decreased motor skills including poor balance, decreased strength, and limited endurance. Symptoms of obesity include a BMI greater than 20, food cravings, back and joint pain, and body temperature regulation that is difficult.
Home modifications for people living with obesity can make life safer and easier in the home. A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist can help with home modifications. Examples of aging-in-place home modifications specifically for people living with obesity includes:
Locks on food storage areas such as the pantry
Control access to whole kitchen with doors or gates that can be locked
Specific refridgerator in locked area
Alarms or monitors to notify adults of nighttime movement
A room with equipment as needed for back and joint pain, such as supported seating and specialty beds
Air conditioning in main living and sleeping areas
UV reflective window coatings
Window shades (can be insulated)
Update windows and doors for more stable indoor air temperatures
Zoned heating and cooling for the home
Covered/enclosed car parking (heated garage may be beneficial in cold climates)
Larger showers and bathtubs, depending on the condition of the obese patient
Wider hallways, doors and egress windows
Notify local first responders to the address of the severly obese
Increased structural support for flooring and specialty items such as grab bars