Renovating for Aging in Place: Making Your Home Safe and Accessible

As we age, it’s important to create a home environment that supports safety, comfort, and independence.

Aging in place, or remaining in one’s own home as we get older, is a desire shared by many.

To achieve this, it’s essential to consider home renovations that make the space safe and accessible for seniors.

In this blog post, we will explore key considerations and renovation ideas to help you create a home that supports aging in place.

Let’s dive in.

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1. Eliminate Trip Hazards

Start by addressing potential trip hazards in your home.

Remove loose rugs, secure carpets, and ensure that all walkways are clear and clutter-free.

Consider installing non-slip flooring surfaces, especially in areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

By eliminating trip hazards, you reduce the risk of falls, which is a leading cause of injuries among seniors.

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2. Improve Lighting

Good lighting is crucial for aging eyes.

Ensure that all areas of your home are well-lit, especially stairways, hallways, and entrances.

Replace traditional light switches with illuminated ones for easier visibility.

Consider installing motion sensor lights to illuminate key areas automatically.

Adequate lighting enhances safety, prevents accidents, and promotes a sense of security.

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3. Create a Stepless Entry

Creating a stepless entry is essential for individuals with mobility challenges.

If your home has steps at the entrance, consider installing a ramp or a gradual slope for easy access.

If your budget allows, you may even consider widening doorways to accommodate mobility devices like wheelchairs or walkers.

A stepless entry ensures that your home remains accessible for years to come.

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4. Install Grab Bars and Handrails

Installing grab bars and handrails in key areas, such as bathrooms and stairways, significantly enhances safety and stability.

Securely mount grab bars near toilets, showers, and bathtubs to provide support when transitioning from sitting to standing or moving around slippery surfaces.

Similarly, install handrails on both sides of staircases to assist with balance and prevent falls.

5. Adapt the Bathroom

The bathroom can be a high-risk area for seniors.

Consider making the following modifications to ensure safety and accessibility:

  • Install a walk-in shower or a walk-in bathtub to eliminate the need to step over high tub edges.

  • Add a shower bench or seat for comfortable bathing.

  • Install a handheld showerhead for flexibility and ease of use.

  • Consider a raised toilet seat or a wall-mounted toilet for better accessibility.

  • Install slip-resistant flooring and grab bars near the toilet and shower area.

6. Create a Bedroom on the Main Floor

If your home has multiple levels, consider creating a bedroom on the main floor to avoid the need for frequent use of stairs.

This allows seniors to have easy access to their sleeping quarters, reducing the risk of falls or strains associated with climbing stairs.

7. Consider Lever Handles and D-shaped Handles

Replace traditional round door knobs with lever handles throughout your home.

Lever handles are easier to grasp and operate, making it simpler for individuals with arthritis or limited hand dexterity to open doors.

Additionally, consider using D-shaped handles on cabinets and drawers, as they offer a more ergonomic grip.

8. Improve Communication Systems

Install a home intercom system or a personal emergency response system (PERS) to ensure that help is easily accessible in case of an emergency.

These systems provide a direct line of communication to emergency services or family members, giving seniors peace of mind and a reliable means of seeking assistance when needed.

9. Consider Flooring and Surfaces

Choose flooring materials that are safe and easy to navigate.

Opt for non-slip surfaces that provide traction, such as vinyl, cork, or textured tiles.

Avoid high-pile carpets that can create tripping hazards.

Ensure that transitions between different flooring surfaces are smooth and level to prevent tripping.

10. Consult with Professionals

When renovating for aging in place, it’s beneficial to consult with professionals who specialize in accessible design or aging-in-place renovations.

They can offer valuable insights, recommend appropriate modifications, and ensure that your home meets accessibility standards and codes.

Conclusion

Renovating your home for aging in place is a proactive step towards creating a safe and accessible living environment as you grow older.

By eliminating trip hazards, improving lighting, creating a stepless entry, installing grab bars, adapting the bathroom, and considering other modifications, you can enhance the safety, comfort, and independence of your home.

Remember to consult with professionals to ensure that your renovations meet accessibility standards and address your specific needs.

With thoughtful renovations, you can continue to enjoy the familiarity and comfort of your home for years to come.