Use this inexpensive, do-it-yourself home modification checklist to keep your senior safe while they age in place.
Hidden Hazards in the home can make seniors’ lives more challenging and put them at greater risk of injury. Inexpensive home modifications can make a difference.
Making home improvements can increase senior safety and comfort. Fortunately, many modifications can be made inexpensively. You can perform several affordable improvements yourself or hire a contractor to make simple changes. As a result, seniors will be better equipped for ageing in place.
Inexpensive Do-It-Yourself Home Modification Checklist (healthinaging.org)
- Install pull or lever handles instead of doorknobs
- Add glow in the dark lighting strips along floor and next to important switches
- Rearrange furniture to create clear pathways without clutter
Main Living Spaces
- Add more lamps behind and around furniture
- Remove curtains and replace with blinds to let natural lighting in
- Adhere cords and wires to walls out of the way
- Add lighting and light switches if hallways are dark (nightlights are a great choice)
- Install low rails for support along the walls
- Remove loose rugs and other tripping hazards
- Move heavy and often-used items to easy-to-reach spaces
- Add lighting wherever possible
- Choose a table to use for prep space instead of standing by tall countertops
- Install grab bars in and around the shower and toilet
- Add easy-access, waist-height shelving for storage
- Place non-slip pads on tub floors and surfaces that often get wet
- Lower water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
- Place additional, easy-to-use lights on each side of the bed
- Install a bed rail for support getting into and out of bed
- Add pillows or pads if headboards have sharp or hard edges
- Swap out shelves for heavy drawers and high bars in closets
Change Home Habits for Safety and Convenience
- Use smaller, wheeled laundry baskets
- Put often-used items like remotes in easy-to-reach baskets
- Connect lights to one switch to illuminate rooms more easily
- Designate half the kitchen table for prep space
- Rearrange items to make clearer paths in the home
- Make towels accessible for cleaning spills quickly
- Establish upkeep routines so messes don’t become too burdensome
- Keep track of medications in a weekly pillbox
- Relocate bedroom for one-floor living
Affordable Renovation Options
Some modifications typically require knowledge of and experience in construction. A certified contractor can make renovations like these if needed:
- Widen doorways for wheelchair access
- Install a wheelchair ramp
- Add an electronic stairlift
- Install a walk-in tub or shower
- Lower countertops
- Move light switches down for wheelchair reach
(Info from Senior Advisor)
Get an Expert’s Advice
AARP, together with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), offers Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) training. Visit the NAHB website to find a CAPS certified contractor to assess and work on a senior’s home. (aarp.org)
Home Care Tip:
Pay attention to what seniors mention as concerns. Watch as they perform activities to see what causes them to hesitate. Use what you notice to guide your home modification priorities.
In 1995 he became Administrator of Dial-a-Nurse nursing agency, the oldest nursing agency in the Southwest Florida succeeding his mother who started the company 37 years ago. He is also President of Nevco, Inc., an educational healthcare training company begun in 1988.
Mr. Wolfendale has worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce on various Missions to improve the quality of life around the world by development of supportive healthcare programs. In 2005 he traveled with U.S. officials and addressed the Italian National Government assisting in the creation of Nurse Education mandates for that Country. In 2006 he was invited and spoke with the National Institutes of Continuing Education in Eastern Europe on healthcare education and developmental mandates, and most recently represented the United States at the European Union in Lake Balaton, Hungary in 2011. In 2014 he traveled with the U.S. Department of State to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam in an effort to improve caregiver knowledge and training.
Mr. Wolfendale has worked with a number of non-profits in contributing and creating curriculum to improve the quality of life in third-world countries since 2001, and notably created a successful program in Odessa, India that has been modeled in other areas of the world. In his backyard, he has worked with local Goodwill Industries to provide curriculum and training to underserved individuals who have obtained employment as a result of educational training. He was the Congressional appointment to the Governor's purple ribbon task force in 2013, and has worked to educate caregivers in all aspects of Alzheimer's training.