According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), nearly 90% of aging seniors prefer to stay in their own home, which is commonly referred to as “aging in place.” With a growing number of seniors aging in place, general home modifications are critical to prevent common accidents like falls, trips or slips.
From lighting to flooring, simple fixes can ensure a safe and secure environment for seniors who live alone. But before beginning any renovations, be sure to assess how your loved one makes use of their surroundings.
Some factors to consider include the following:
- Do they use a wheelchair or walker to navigate to and from rooms?
- Are doorways and hallways wide enough to enter and exit?
- Are there potential tripping or slipping hazards?
- Are handles and faucets easy to turn and open?
Simple modifications make it easier for seniors to remain in their homes independently. If your loved one is living alone, check out our room-by-room guide to senior home safety below.
There are many changes that can make a bedroom safer for seniors who wish to age in the comfort of their own home. Before altering the space, take into consideration where the bedroom is in relation to other commonly used rooms in the house like the bathroom.
If your loved one lives in a multilevel home, consider moving their bedroom to the main floor. This keeps them from having to walk up and down stairs. Or, install a chair or stair lift to ensure your loved one’s safety.
Other tips for senior friendly bedrooms, include:
- Install bed rails to prevent your loved one from rolling or falling out of bed.
- Mount grab bars to help your loved one get in and out of bed.
- Remove area and throw rugs to prevent your loved one from tripping or falling.
- Install smoke detectors or fire alarms in or near bedroom.
Small improvements like these can make a big difference for seniors who live alone.
According to the AARP, “More than one-third of injuries among older adults occur in the bathroom.” If you’re worried about a medical emergency occurring in the bathroom (or across the house), consider purchasing your loved one a medical alert device to communicate a fall with emergency personnel.
Other precautions you can take to reduce their risk of falling, include:
- Put non-slip pads and strips in and around the tub or shower.
- Install grab bars in the tub or shower, as well as near the toilet to prevent slipping and sliding.
- Raise the height of the toilet seat to improve stability while using the bathroom.
- Eliminate obstacles like steps to make it easy to get in and out of the tub or shower.
- Remove area rugs or mats that could cause trips and falls.
- Purchase a shower stool, seat or bench.
- Purchase an adjustable or hand-held showerhead.
- Update the lighting to improve visibility.
- Move frequently used items (hairbrush, toothbrush, shampoo) to easy access location.
Making these safety updates improve self-sufficiency for seniors wishing to age in place.
Seniors who live alone are typically responsible for cooking unless an outside service is delivering meals.
If your loved one is active in the kitchen, consider making these upgrades to minimize the potential for accidents and injuries:
- Invest in appliances with automatic shut-off features.
- Arrange kitchen cupboards so that frequently used items (plates, glasses and utensils) are stored in areas that are easy to reach.
- Replace glass items with plastic.
- Install ample lighting above the stove and sink, as well as countertop areas.
- Purchase two handle pots.
- Snake or remove electrical cords.
- Inspect wiring, outlets and smoke detectors.
These slight modifications will help keep your loved one safe while cooking in the kitchen.
>>>Related Resource: If it’s time to move your loved one of out their home and into a senior living facility, check out our post, 6 Types of Senior Living Options: What's Right for Your Family?
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