Senior-friendly home improvements

As people age, daily activities that used to be trivial can suddenly pose a challenge. Although some elderly citizens require constant help, many seniors still prefer to live on their own. To make their day-to-day lives easier, we have a list of senior-friendly home improvements for you to consider.

1. Install grab bars

Almost everyone can require some help to find their footing from time to time. However, there are some rooms in the house which are particularly problematic. Most falls happen in the bathroom and the bedroom. You can install grab bars to reduce the number of accidental slips:

  • Bathroom floors can get slippery if water is spilled on them. Install grab bars next to the shower but also near the toilet. However, some water will eventually get spilled. Therefore, you should place anti-slip mats on the floor.
  • Bedrooms are another good place for grab bars. You can place them on the walls and even above the bed to ease getting up in the morning. Consider getting age-appropriate furniture and a firmer mattress that offers more support.
Grab bars and plenty of room are welcome features in the bathroom

2. Preventing falls in other rooms

Unfortunately, you can’t place grab bars everywhere in the home. Those who are caring for elderly parents know that falls are the biggest injury risk in the home. Make sure that you put non-slippery surfaces on all the floors in the house. Here are some ideas to reduce slipping and falling:

Place non-skid mats under the rugs to ensure they are held in place.

  • Tripping on carpet corners is also reasonably common. Affix all the carpets with sticky tape.
  • Purchase low pile carpets to reduce the chance they accidentally catch canes and walkers.
  • If there is someone using a wheelchair or mobility scooter in the home, carpeting might be a bad idea altogether.
  • Purchase non-slip tiles for outdoor areas. Avoid polished surfaces that can retain water.
  • Check if drains and gutters are properly taking water away from the home.

3. Declutter the home

Throughout our lives, we will accumulate a large number of possessions. Although many of them can hold sentimental value, decluttering is definitely going to make getting around the house easier. Simply put, traversing a home can get problematic if there are things you need to avoid or jump over. Before you start planning what senior-friendly home improvements you want to do in the future, you should first tidy up the place and make sure it’s organized and free from clutter.

Seniors are especially prone to hoarding possessions and filling their homes with almost useless items from floor to ceiling. However, you should try to be sympathetic and understand that for them, those items represent memories and achievements. Talking your parents into getting rid of a lifetime of memories may be an impossible task. It will likely only lead to arguing and frustration. Therefore, the logical solution seems to be to avoid that confrontation altogether.

You can rent a storage unit and move the excess items there. Now you just need to make sure you don’t break the bank and find storage that’s affordable. That way, they get to keep their valued possessions and still live in a clutter-free environment.

Automatic light placed on wall as a senior-friendly home improvement
Place automatic light sensors in bathrooms if your elderly parent needs to get up at night

4. Place plenty of lights

Most older adults have diminished eyesight and have trouble seeing in poorly lit conditions. Senior-friendly homes need to have enough lights to let them see where they are going. You can place multiple light switches within a single room, so they don’t need to walk far to turn the lights on or off. Having a light switch nearby is also of enormous help when they are walking into dark rooms. 

Also, consider placing automatic light sensors around the house if the senior in your care needs to get up in the middle of the night. The best places for automatic lights are hallways and bathrooms.

5. Secure the stairs

For those seniors whose homes have more than one level, stairs often prove to be a tricky problem to tackle. Staying active is important, but if seniors feel unsafe, they may be reluctant to walk and move about the home. Having to face a dangerous staircase can cause many older adults to lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Hand railings on staircases are a must. If there aren’t any, it is crucial to take all the necessary steps in order to place them and wisely choose proper material for them. Also, consider the possibility of placing railings on both sides of the staircase. This will allow for additional stability and safety while traversing the stairs. You can mark the edges of each step for added visibility. If there is a rug that covers the staircase, you need to ensure that it is tightly fastened and doesn’t move around.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to install senior-friendly home improvements, multi-level homes simply aren’t going to work for some seniors. In those cases, you should consider moving them to a single-floor house or apartment. From their years of working in the moving industry, the movers from assuredly claim that most older adults prefer relocating to homes without any staircases or inclines. Seniors who move to single-floor homes spend more time being active and going outside, which is a definite recommendation from health experts.

An elderly woman washing vegetables in kitchen.
Single levers are easier to use than knobs and traditional faucets.

6. Replace doorknobs and faucets with levers

Seniors who have arthritis can encounter pain when performing everyday tasks. You can alleviate some of those issues by making items in the household easier to operate. 

  • Rounded doorknobs can be very tricky for elders with impaired hand dexterity. The simple act of grabbing a twisting a round object, especially when paired with a heavier door, can seem like an impossible task. Levers that can be pushed are much easier to operate.
  • Faucets in the bathroom and kitchen can cause similar issues. On top of those concerns, they can pose an additional safety risk since cold and hot water are turned on independently. A misjudged turn of the faucet can produce scalding hot water. Single lever faucets are much easier to operate and can be used with just one hand.

In summary

There are many ways to ensure the safety and quality of life for your elderly parents. Based on their needs, you can determine which senior-friendly home improvements are priority upgrades and focus on getting those installed first. They will surely experience an improvement in their mood and overall day-to-day life.