Home Modifications for Aging in Place
As you age, simple activities you’ve always performed around the house with ease can suddenly become difficult. Or worse, dangerous.
For seniors not in any hurry to trade out their current home for an assisted living facility, some changes need to be made. Depending on your particular challenges and needs, you may find some more extensive home modifications than those suggested here are in order. In that case, you may be able to get some help paying for the bigger changes. But for many seniors, just a few simple modifications can make a big difference.
In honor of Senior Independence Month, here are 10 simple ways you can make your home more aging-friendly.
1. Install Bathroom Grab Bars
Getting in and out of the tub and standing up from the toilet once seemed like the simplest of possible tasks, but now they take some effort. Adding a grab bar to the wall makes it easier to pull yourself up.
2. Re-organize rooms to allow more space for movement.
You want to have a clear path to walk from place to place in your own house, which might require moving some things around. Call in a family member to help you move the furniture and other items in your home around so that it’s easier to move from place to place.
3. Re-organize rooms so commonly used items are more accessible.
Don’t make yourself reach up to get a pan out of the cabinet or bend down to get to your morning toiletries. Think about the things you use at least once a week and start storing them somewhere where they’re easy to find and access. This might mean your counter space gets more crowded, but it will make your life easier.
4. Remove rugs and other low-to-the-ground items.
Anything that might cause you to trip and fall needs to go. Get rid of rugs and anything else currently on your floor that could get in your way and cause problems.
5. Lower the temperature on the water heater.
You don’t want to risk burning yourself in the shower. A quick change to your water heater lessens that risk. As an added bonus, lowering the temperature on your water heater saves you some money in energy costs. Here are simple instructions on how to do it.
6. Replace handles with levered ones.
If you have arthritis or just generally find your dexterity starting to go, opening simple doors and cabinets becomes more challenging. Levered handles make it easier to get a grip and, as such, are a pretty simple way to make your life easier.
7. Add extra lighting to dark spaces.
Your cabinets, closets, or anywhere else you have a hard time seeing things can be easily lit up. Get some stick-on tap lights to make lighting those spaces easier. If you have stairs, stick some lights along each step to help you see where you’re going at night as well.
8. Install a doorbell and smoke detector with lights.
For seniors whose hearing is starting to slip, you might need a little extra warning when a smoke alarm goes off or a doorbell rings. You can find versions of both items that will add some lights to the equation.
9. Add traction strips to bathroom floor and steps.
Any floor surface that might get slippery should be covered with no-slip tape or mats. It’s a simple fix that can save you a trip to the emergency room.
10. Use an elevated toilet seat.
Like the grab bars, this will make it easier for you to get up and down without trouble. They’re pretty easy to find and install and can make one of your daily tasks a much simpler process.
You want to stay independent, but you know it’s only smart to do so if you make concessions to ensure living on your own is safe and manageable. These simple home improvements can help get you there. If you found this article helpful you might also enjoy our 10 tips for making a home safe for aging.