Home Modifications for Seniors: Easy Adjustments for Aging in Place
There are some simple home modifications for seniors that don’t require a major overhaul of the house. You shouldn’t wait until you have a problem to consider making these recommended home modifications for seniors. The idea is to make simple adjustments so that your home is safe and supports you as you age.
Why Home Modification is a Top Factor in Being Able to Remain at Home
More than 1 out of 4 older people fall each year. Over 800,000 of them are hospitalized as a result of the fall, with at least 300,000 resulting hip fractures. And, falls are the most common cause of Traumatic Brain Injury. 55% of falls occur inside the home. An additional 23% of older adults get injured in falls near the home, such as in the yard or on curbs and sidewalks.
Though there are various medical risk factors, the home environment itself plays a huge role. Researchers estimate that between 35% and 40% of falls result from factors that are related to the physical environment. Along with falls, elders experience fires, burns and injuries during food preparation and eating at a much higher rate.
We look at minimizing risks with simple home modifications for seniors. Of course, someone might pass out from a medical condition or become ill unexpectedly at home. But, there’s no reason we can’t prevent things like stumbling over a loose rug, getting stuck in the bathtub or burning one’s self when slipping on a wet kitchen floor.
The Top Home Modifications for Seniors You Can Implement Simply and Affordably
1. Clear pathways for daily activities.
When we do a home assessment, we analyze the senior’s routine and look how the physical space is arranged. The first thing we look at is whether they can walk where they need to without obstacles. Throw rugs, cords, piles of papers, small tables or ottomans…make for an easy stumble. We’ve had numerous clients over the years rush to get to the phone and get caught on the edge of a rug or run right into a coffee table corner.
2. Further to this point, rearrange the environment to be better suited to your daily use patterns.
Avoid dangers by eliminating the need to reach, use stepstools or move about without proper lighting, etc. For example, one of our care managers worked with a client on a home modification plan. She noticed that the client had many items in her freezer and pantry she couldn’t reach. She either had to get on a stool, or often just didn’t notice she had those foods and they expired. With simple rearranging, she was not only safer but she saved money and hassle.
Another example is looking at the bathroom arrangements. Having to get out of a wet shower to get to your towel puts you at risk to fall. Having cluttered countertops could mean you hurt yourself reaching to get an item. Or, you could harm yourself by confusing two items if you can’t see well.
The assessment can help you make small home modifications to improve the “workflow” of your day. Another example relates back to rushing to the phone as we mentioned earlier. With cordless and mobile phones, voice-controlled speakers and more, there’s no reason for this to occur anymore. We analyze your patterns and what tools and arrangements can make you safest and most comfortable.
3. Make the bathroom safer.
ERs treat nearly 200,000 seniors each year for injuries from falls in the bathroom. It is where approximately 80% of seniors fall in the home. Most falls occur while:
- Getting in and out of the tub or shower.
- Sitting down and getting up from the toilet.
- Walking and attempting to use towel bars, sink tops or other objects for support and balance.
The bathroom is a natural place for home modifications for seniors, due to some of the environmental features that often play a role in falls including:
- Insufficiently secured towel racks that could fall when gripped for support
- Shower curtains or sliding shower doors, which may fall or move, being used to steady one’s self
- Slippery bathtub and shower floor surfaces
- Bathtubs that are difficult to step into and out of
- Slippery floor tiles and surfaces that tend to get wet
- Low toilet seats that make it difficult to get up and down
Our team recommends simple and low-cost solutions to many of these issues. You do not necessarily have to do a full remodel. Easy home modifications and products will do the trick in most cases. Sometimes we even find seniors are using the bathroom with a tub (with no shower chair or grab bars) when they have a walk-in shower in another bathroom. A simple switch in routine can save you from a trip to the hospital.
4. Look outside too.
As mentioned, you’re second most likely to fall just outside the home. Make sure sidewalks are cleared and in good repair. Clearing overgrown plants and trees can minimize fall risks but also lessen dangers of robbery or attack. Similarly, install good lighting outside the home. We recommend motion sensor lighting and smart home systems.
In some cases, you might also consider installing a ramp or otherwise removing impediments. This outdoor home modification might be easier and cheaper than you expect. And, our team knows about programs that can help with these costs.
6. Consider where to get help.
Not everything can be solved with a physical home modification. However, you can find plenty of resources to help you stay at home.
Sometimes an assessment uncovers chores around the home that could be getting particularly dangerous. It may be time to stop cleaning your gutters or repairing your roof yourself. We’ve talked to more than one family whose parent fell into a pool while doing pool maintenance. Maintenance, like changing lightbulbs and cleaning fans, could easily be “outsourced” so you can continue enjoying life at home safely. Even chores like ironing and laundry might become difficult. Someone with a back or shoulder injury risks further problems with what were once simple tasks.
So, taking a look at what’s realistic can mean getting help in areas that could prevent future problems.
Get a free home evaluation.
Contact us to schedule a consultation with our aging in place experts.