How to Modify Your Home for Aging in Place

If you’re like a growing number of Americans, you would like to stay in your home as long as possible. Known as “aging in place”, choosing to stay in your home as you get older instead of moving to an assisted living facility or other retirement community is no doubt preferable to most. Staying safe and comfortable in your personal residence as you grow older can be difficult, however by planning ahead, you can make the necessary modifications to ensure your house becomes a lifelong home.

Simple DIY home modifications help maintain your quality of life. These changes are easy to do and can create a world of difference in terms of convenience and safety. Most changes can be completed in a day with supplies from a local hardware store. AARP has wonderful resources for making sure your home is HomeFit, with room-by-room suggestions, and here is our list of common modifications that will contribute to ease of living and personal safety:

How to Modify Your Home for Aging in Place
Install grab bars for toilets and tubs
1

Install grab bars for toilets and tubs

Tasks such as getting in and out of your bathtub, as well as using the toilet can become difficult with age. Grab bars take pressure off weak knees when rising from the commode, offer support if you simply need something to lean on, and can be installed nearly anywhere!

Remove unnecessary throw rugs to prevent accidental tripping and slipping
2

Remove unnecessary throw rugs to prevent accidental tripping and slipping

Unsecured rugs can bunch up or slip, causing a major tripping hazard when walking, especially if you’re using mobility aids like a walker or cane. If you’re adamant about keeping throw rugs for decorative purposes, consider sticking doubled sided tape onto the rugs so they stay in place.

THFS Silver Spring Lightweight Foam Threshold Ramp
3

Rearrange furniture to create clear pathways

Larger walkways make navigating your home much easier, and if you use a wheelchair or mobility scooter having room to move and turn is an absolute necessity. Keep common walking paths as clear as possible, and relocate any items that could hamper your mobility or create a fall hazard.

Replace doorknobs with lever door handles
4

Replace doorknobs with lever door handles

Lever door handles are much easier to open than traditional round doorknobs, especially if you have arthritis or low hand strength. Lever handles are also easier to manage if your hands are full.

Install extra lighting in stairways and other dark areas
5

Install extra lighting in stairways and other dark areas

Seniors need approximately three times as much light to see properly compared to a young adult. By installing extra lighting throughout your home, you will greatly reduce the chance of accidents, especially in stairways. Automatic night-lights for hallways and bathrooms are a good idea.

Install rocker style light switches
6

Install rocker style light switches

Seniors need approximately three times as much light to see properly compared to a young adult. By installing extra lighting throughout your home, you will greatly reduce the chance of accidents, especially in stairways. Automatic night-lights for hallways and bathrooms are a good idea.

Replace doorknobs with lever door handles
7

Apply non-slip tape to uncarpeted stairs

Uncarpeted stairs pose a serious falling hazard. They are often slippery and can be difficult to navigate. By applying non-slip tape, you can gain better traction and help prevent falls. In addition, make sure your stairways have a railing on each side for additional support.

Add a shower safety seat in your bathroom or wheelchair shower platform
8

Add a shower safety seat in your bathroom or wheelchair shower platform

A shower safety seat offers stability and a rest place if you have trouble standing for long periods of time. They are affordable and easy to find in most stores. A wheelchair shower platform is an excellent solution if you’re confined to a mobility aid, making it easy and hassle-free to get in and out of the tub.

Place non-skid mats on your bathroom floor and in your shower or tub
9

Place non-skid mats on your bathroom floor and in your shower or tub

Placing a non-skid mat outside the shower and near toilets and sinks can prevent an accidental slip or fall, especially on tiled or wood floors.

Install threshold ramps to easily overcome small rises
10

Install threshold ramps to easily overcome small rises

Threshold ramps create a no-step entry into your home, significantly reducing tripping hazards and allowing easy access for mobility aids. Beneficial for scooters, wheelchairs and foot traffic, threshold ramps eliminate small steps and rises throughout the interior and exterior of your home.

Consider modular ramps for long term access
11

Consider modular ramps for long term access

If you use a mobility scooter or wheelchair daily, it might be time to substitute temporary ramps for a more permanent solution. Modular ramp systems are perfect for this because they can be configured to the exact specifications of your entryway. Placing an order for a modular system is a little more involved, so if you would like to learn more or request a quote for your home, please call our experienced staff at (888) 651-3431 and they would be happy to assist you.

Consider hiring an experienced contractor
12

Consider hiring an experienced contractor

For more extensive changes, it’s recommended you hire an experienced contractor. Contact the National Association of Home Builders to find a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS). The NAHB is a network of highly trained professionals, making them an excellent resource for valuable remodeling advice, while recommending certified contractors to complete more extensive jobs. The right home contractor can update your home and tackle bigger projects, like remodeling a bathroom, expanding doorways to be at least 36" wide, or installing additional lighting where needed.