Making your home safe for seniors

When a parent or loved one ages, their children or caretakers may reach a point where the elderly person’s home is no longer safe for them to live in. This is a delicate situation, because while assisted living facilities and nursing homes are designed to prevent falls and other accidents, the homeowner may not want to give up the familiar residence they cherish that holds many memories for them.

Fortunately, there are many ways to make a home more senior friendly and safe. Some require a contractor’s expertise while others are simple DIY changes that a caretaker can do themselves. Here’s everything you need to know about modifying a home so parents can age in place or delay moving to an assisted living facility.

Get a Professional Assessment First

Before you decide upon any renovations, it’s a good idea to have a professional who works with the elderly—such as an occupational or physical therapist (such as one of our accessibility consultants who are therapists by background)—do a walk-through of the home to determine what needs improving. They can make recommendations based on the senior person’s physical abilities and health.

Hire a Professional For Major Renovations

When it comes to altering areas or making extensive changes to certain rooms, it’s best to leave this type of home renovation work to a professional. Some senior proofing projects that you should consult a contracting company for include:

  • Widening doorways and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs
  • Installing a new shower or bathtub or modifying the current one to make it easier to access. You may want to consider a walk-in tub or barrier-free shower that eliminates the need to step over a threshold and installing secure grab bars and a slip-resistance surface.
  • Installing handrails on stairs
  • Installing a stair lift or elevator
  • Replacing flooring with slip-resistant vinyl, linoleum, or bamboo flooring
  • Adding a wheelchair ramp
  • Adjusting kitchen countertops and cabinets so they’re within close reach

A home contractor experienced in modifying homes for seniors should be able to give you recommendations for improvements and a quote.

Make the Home Fall Resistant

According to the Centers For Disease Prevention and Control, one in four Americans 65 and older fall each year. And falls are the leading fatal injury in older adults. With just a few simple changes, you can eliminate falling and tripping hazards from a residence. Consider doing the following:

  • Remove throw and small rugs; they tend to cause tripping
  • Secure loose carpeting and rugs with double-sided tape so no areas can trap feet
  • Remove floor clutter such as boxes, magazines, electrical cords, and other objects from walkways
  • Apply non-stick wax to floors
  • Purchase a shower or bath chair so the elderly person can sit while bathing
  • Place a bathmat in or apply non-slip coating to the tub to prevent slips
  • Install a raised toilet seat with optional armrests
  • Store objects and clothing on shelving that is easy for the homeowner to reach
  • Plug in nightlights in the bedroom, bathroom, and other areas the elderly person may access at night to make it easier for them to see

Additional Steps You Can Take

The following ideas can further create a safer home environment for an elderly person:

  • Make it difficult for the stove to be left on by installing an induction cooktop or automatic device that turns a burner off when a pot is removed from it
  • Install a senior-friendly phone that features a loud ringtone, adjustable volume, and large buttons
  • Install anti-scalding devices in the shower, bathroom, and kitchen so water can’t get too hot—or adjust the water heater’s thermostat to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Replace the bed with one that is at a height the elderly person can easily get in and out of. This tip can help contribute to a better night’s sleep.
  • Use only wheel-free chairs in the home and chairs at the proper height so the elderly person can stand up from them easily

Let BILD Help Create a Senior Friendly Home

Here at BILD, our mission is to create the safest and most comfortable home environment for our clients that helps them retain their independence. Our team of accessibility specialists have backgrounds as occupational and physical therapists and we offer the most innovative home designs that enable seniors to stay in their homes.

backgrounds as experienced occupational and physical therapists

If an aging loved one needs modifications to their home, contact us for a free assessment and quote.

Krista Harper is a freelance writer from Southern California and regularly covers lifestyle and senior health topics.