Simple Home Adjustments That Can Help Seniors Age in Place



A home that’s perfectly convenient for people in there 50’s and 60’s can actually become an obstacle in there 70’s and 80’s. Fortunately, there are dozens of small adjustments and simple modifications you can do to help make your home safer and more fit for aging-in-place, that won’t cost much if anything at all. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Eliminate Trip & Slip Hazards
Since falls are the leading cause of home injury among seniors, a good place to start is by arranging or moving your furniture so there are clear pathways to walk through. Position any electrical or phone cords along the wall so they won’t be a tripping hazard. If you have throw rugs, remove them or use carpet tacks or double-sided tape to secure them. And pick up items on the floor that could cause you to trip like papers, shoes or clothes.

In the bathroom, buy some non-skid rugs for the floors, and a rubber mat or adhesive nonslip strips for the floor of the tub or shower to prevent slipping, and have a carpenter install grab bars in and around the tub/shower and near the toilet for support.

Improve Lighting
Good lighting is very important for safe aging-in-place, so check the wattage ratings on your lamps and light fixtures, and install the brightest bulbs allowed. Purchase some nightlights for the bathroom and in the hallways that are used after dark. And consider adding under-cabinet task lighting in the kitchen, and motion sensor lights outside the front and back doors and in the driveway.

Easier Living
To help make your kitchen easier to use, organize her cabinets so the things she uses most often are within easy reach without a lot of stooping or using a step stool. Also, consider installing pullout shelves beneath the counter and Lazy Susans in corner cabinets for easier access. And get a kitchen stool so you can sit down while working.

In the bathroom for easier and safer bathing, consider purchasing a shower chair and install a hand-held shower so you can bathe from a seated position if need be.

Accessibility Solutions
If you use a walker or wheelchair, you can adapt her house by installing ramps on entrance steps, and mini-ramps to go over high thresholds. You can also install “swing-away” or “swing-clear” hinges on your doors to add two inches of width for easier access.

Safety Improvements

To keep you safe, set your hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below to prevent scalds. If you have stairs, put handrails on both sides. Also, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of your house, and place a lightweight, easy-to-use ABC-rated fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location in the kitchen.

For more tips, get a copy of AARP’s “HomeFit Guide” that’s filled with dozens of aging-in-place recommendations. You can access it at AARP.org/homefit, or call 888-687-2277 and ask them to mail you a free copy.

Also note that all the previously mentioned products can be purchased either in local retail stores, home improvement stores, pharmacies or medical supply stores, or online at Amazon.com.

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