As you enter a new phase of your life, you might find that your home isn’t as comfortable or accessible as it used to be. That’s because houses need to evolve as we evolve. The bedroom you had at age 15 wouldn’t work at 35, and the house you had at 35 shouldn’t look or feel the same as the one you have now. Maybe you’re a loved one looking for ideas for home care equipment for elderly parents.
Here are 12 home modifications for aging in place. For any senior home modifications with GoGo or other services as you age, register with GoGoGrandparent or call (855) 464-6872.
1. Add more lighting fixtures and increase bulb wattage.
One of the greatest (and most unexpected) risks for older adults around the home is poor lighting conditions. As we age, we have trouble seeing with dimmer lighting. Home modifications for aging in place that you might want to consider are using higher-wattage bulbs; this will help brighten the room without needing to add more fixtures. Also, focus on incorporating more direct task lighting to those areas where you spend the most time, like the shower, near the kitchen sink, and above your bed.
2. Add night lights.
Light is particularly important at night, so add plug-in night lights throughout the house so you can see where you’re going. This simple senior home modification is especially important in the bathroom and kitchen if you tend to wake up frequently to use the restroom or grab a midnight snack.
3. Install rocker-style light switches.
Often, home care equipment for elderly parents are small items that make a big impact. Use GoGo to help find you a handyman or electrician to install push-style light switches. These flip switches require less effort and are easier to use than toggle switches. If your hands are full, for example, you can push the light on with your elbow or shoulder. Another quick-fix home modification for aging in place!
4. Take care of your stairs.
One of the most important senior home modifications is adapting the staircase. Stairs can be the most dangerous part of the house because of narrow or steep steps, slippery floors, and uneven thresholds. A little trip can do a lot of damage. Make sure your stairs have sturdy handrails that run the entire length of the staircase. (This is true for steps outside the home, as well.) If you are transitioning to a walker or wheelchair, consider installing a stair lift, which is helpful home care equipment for elderly people.
5. Add swing-clear hinges to doors.
If you don’t want to widen your doorways but need a little extra room to maneuver, another senior home modification to consider is to replace your door’s standard hinges with swing-clear hinges. These allow the door to swing completely clear of the door opening, which can add about 1.5” to 2” of additional clearance.
Want a professional to add these hinges to your doors? Check out GoGo’s home services options. We can help you find a local handyman to do the task for you. Best yet, what makes GoGo different is our Guardian program that thoroughly vets and screens these home services professionals for you, so you can feel comfortable making these important home modifications for aging in place.
6. Reduce clutter.
There’s a reason minimalism is so popular right now: because clutter can actually be bad for your mental and physical health. Studies show that clutter can impact our mental health and well-being. Moreover, the more clutter there is, the more likely you’ll bump into something and get injured. It will also make it harder to find any items you’re looking for, which can be taxing on your physical health.
This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your favorite trinkets or elements of nostalgia. Instead, focus on getting rid of those items that are simply “taking up space.” This might include old clothes, unnecessary furniture, and extra appliances that you don’t use. A clean house will feel much more comfortable – and it will be safer.
Sometimes, senior home modifications aren’t about buying special home care equipment for the elderly–it can mean just reorganizing your space. As you’re decluttering, organize your storage spaces so they are more accessible. Don’t store heavy items on high shelves that can fall on you. Put items used most frequently towards the front for easy access. You may want to consider hiring a professional to install an organizational unit in your closet or garage to make this process easier, which GoGo can set you up with..
8. Clear pathways around your home.
Now that you have less clutter, make sure there aren’t any items in the “pathways” around your home. You want at least three-foot wide paths through each room so you can maneuver easily. This may mean rearranging furniture, moving electrical cords (that can be a tripping hazard), and getting rid of throw rugs.
If you want help with any of these home modifications for aging in place, check out GoGo’s home services to find reliable in-home services.
9. Install smart home features.
One of the best developments in home care equipment for the elderly has been smart home devices. Home monitoring systems, smart door locks, video doorbells, and temperature controls can improve your safety and quality of life. You may want to consider voice-controlled personal assistant devices that can manage your lights, TV, thermostat, and other home features with just your voice.
One of the best features of these kinds of senior home modifications is that you can even put your thermostat and lights on a timer, so your lights can go on at the same time each night to help you see better, your house can warm up in the evenings, or you can even have the TV go on automatically to welcome you when you come home!
10. Throw out your throw rugs.
Throw rugs are a major tripping hazard. Replace area rugs with slip-resistant flooring or skid-resistant mats. In wet areas like the bathroom and kitchen, slip-resistant mats can be additions and home modifications for aging in placel. If you choose to install slip-resistant flooring, make sure the floors have a high coefficient of friction rating (COF). To comply with ADA requirements, the static COF should be no less than 0.6 and the dynamic COF should be no less than 0.42.
11. Rethink your bathroom.
The bathroom is where we see a lot of important home modifications for aging in place.
Some tips to make your bathroom more accessible and comfortable:
- Add a shower chair
- Consider elevated toilet seats and safety frames.
- Attach a removable shower head so you can pull the shower head down for better cleaning.
- Add grab bars in the bathroom. Have them professionally installed. Don’t trust suction cup grab bars to hold your weight.
- Add safety steps for the bathtub.
- Invest in a heated towel rack with an auto-off function to warm up your towels and stave off the cold.
- Move your toiletries and medications to an accessible, easy-to-reach place.
12. Make your bed extra comfortable.
Rest is important, so include some cozy home modifications for aging in place. This could include putting a phone by the bed in case you need assistance in the middle of the night – or maybe you just want to chat with a loved one from bed. Have a large nightstand with plenty of space for your nighttime essentials. Consider bed rails as a senior home modification to prevent rolling off the bed and to help sit up in the mornings. You might also want to add padding on sharp corners.
Bonus: consider a home remodel.
There are some home care equipment for the elderly that require a little more energy and money, but they’re worth it in the long run.
Some of these more significant senior home modifications include:
- Lowering countertop heights in the kitchen and bathroom
- Adding grab bars where necessary
- Adding high-traction wheelchair ramps
- Widening doorways
- Installing low-slip floors
- Moving light switches and outlets to a lower height
- Moving all major living spaces (bedroom, laundry, bathroom, kitchen) to the first floor
- Purchasing contrasting colors for kitchen and bathroom countertops
- Installing a shower stall with no barrier in place of a traditional bathtub
- Installing a motorized chair lift on stairs
- Installing a pull-out pantry in the kitchen
- Adding more windows to increase natural lighting
Did you find these tips for senior home modifications helpful? If you want help getting these home modifications for aging in place implemented, register with GoGoGrandparent to have access to reliable, vetted home services providers in your area.