Making Seniors’ Homes Safe for Aging in Place

Aging in place is a goal for seniors across the country. Many of us want to live out our lives in the home of our choice, whether our lifelong home, the home where we raised our children or a more accessible, easier to maintain home near loved ones or a favorite locale.

There are many modifications that we can make to whichever home we choose to age in place. Caregivers can help make these modifications for their senior loved ones to be sure that they are safe and able to maintain independent function.

Home Modifications for Aging in Place Seniors

  1. Lighting – be sure there is adequate lighting in the stairways, landings and hallways to prevent trip and falls. Also check adequacy of outside lighting including possibly making existing lighting motion sensitive for after dark needs without a switch.
  2. Handrails – maintain handrails so that they are firmly in place, install additional rails if they are not in place on both sides or at the correct location including on outside porches and entryways.
  3. Floor surface – update the flooring to be sure all surfaces are non-skid, reduce contrasting colors if dementia is present, remove throw rugs, repair any loose or missing boards or tiles, tack down carpeting, and remove clutter to prevent falls.
  4. Stair lift – consider installing a stair lift.  This is a chair that allows the seniors or any one with decreased mobility to sit in a chair usually with a seat belt to ascend/descend the stairs in comfort and safety. This device is not generally covered by Medicare but may be worth the purchase price to allow senior loved ones to remain independent and safe at home.
  5. Entryway – modify the front entry door to remove stairs and widen doors to make it accessible for the future.
  6. Home monitoring technology – install home monitoring devices that can alert family members and first responders if a problem occurs. There are devices that track usual patterns of daily activity and can let a caregiver know if your senior’s activity changes which may signal a problem.

Some of these tips require more than do-it-yourself skills and may require the use of a handyman or construction pro. There are numerous quick fixes that you and other family members can accomplish to make living at home safer and easier for your senior loved ones including level style faucets and door handles, motion controlled lights in the home, programmable thermostats, grab bars, hand rails, and home seniorization changes.

You may want to consult with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) to plan larger modifications to be sure you are making all the most effective alterations that are needed to keep your senior safe.

There may be some costs associated with home modifications for aging in place, but the improved safety and prevention of falls which could lead to loss of functional ability will far outweigh the costs.

14 thoughts on “Making Seniors’ Homes Safe for Aging in Place”

  1. Great ideas.

    While we spend time and effort “toddler-proofing” our homes for new additions, it’s so important to be reminded of the simple things we can do to make things safe for the older members of the family.

    Thanks for the great resource.

    • Your welcome Phil and thanks for dropping us a note! We agree that a few small changes can mean big payoffs for the safety of our senior loved ones! Thanks!

  2. When I tell the families I work with how to senior proof their home I always tell them to think similar to a toddler. Such things to watch for are tripping hazards, and options if there are stairs or inclines of any type. Working at Presidio I have learned simple tricks on how to make things easier for seniors and still giving them the most dependence possible.

    • We agree Marcela, thanks for sharing your ideas. These simple changes can mean safety for our seniors! We hope you stop by again soon for more updates!

  3. Bathrooms are an especially important area of the home to focus on when considering accessibility for seniors. Statistics have shown this is where most slips and falls occur. I always encourage seniors to focus on that area first if they have the budget before moving on elsewhere in the home.

    • We agree Roger that bathrooms are dangerous places for unsteady seniors! It doesn’t always take much time or money investment to make big impacts on safety. Thanks for your ideas!

  4. With an increasing number of seniors wanting to age in place, I’m glad to see awareness being brought the idea of not just caring for seniors, but ensuring their home is suitable for their needs and most importantly safe for them to continue to live at home independently.

    • Making and keeping our seniors’ homes safe to age in place is vitally important. We will continue to bring information to the community about products and services that can help you keep your senior’s safe at home!

  5. I just wanna add, place a foam or rubber cover on the bathtub faucet to reduce slip when your loved ones accidentally slip. Monitoring technology would really help a lot. We can also remove locks from the bedroom and bathroom so he/she can’t accidentally locked themselves in. 🙂

    If you can’t monitor your loved ones all the time then consider care services like senior care, caregivers or nursing home. 🙂

  6. Thank you Kathy for an outstanding article… crazy I just now stumbled upon this 4 years after you wrote it! I really love what you mentioned about lighting… that is a commonly overlooked factor with safety and fall prevention.

Comments are closed.