Checklist: 9 Home Modifications for Senior Safety

Written by Julia on November 9, 2015

If you have elderly parents who are interested in aging in place, home modifications will be needed for their house. A home that was perfectly safe a few decades ago is not necessarily safe or comfortable for seniors. Start your home modification project with confidence.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the most popular room in the house, so make it comfortable for seniors.

  1. Change the kitchen countertops. If your loved one is in a wheelchair, lower the height of the counters. If he or she cannot bend down to touch the countertops, make them taller.
  2. Install levered faucets. Levered faucets do not require much hand strength to use.
  3. Install cabinet and drawer pulls. Drawer pulls shaped like a C or D are the easiest to push and pull.

The Bathrooms

The following modifications can help seniors feel both comfortable and safe in their bathrooms.

  1. Install multiple grab bars. These are especially useful to have near the toilet and shower.
  2. Add a shower seat. Many seniors aging in place are not comfortable standing for the entire shower duration.
  3. Switch out the toilet. Many seniors find it hard to bend down enough to sit on low toilets, so install a taller toilet.

Hallways, Doors, and Stairs

Make sure the hallways are easy to navigate and the doors are easy to open and close. While homes without stairs are preferred for seniors, a few changes can make stairways safer.

  1. Make sure doorways are at least 3 feet wide. Seniors need to be able to get through doorways easily, even in a wheelchair, so traditional doorways need to be widened.
  2. Install level door handles. These are easier for seniors to use than traditional door knobs.
  3. Modify stairs to be safer. Many seniors need a stair lift to bring them up and down stairs, and that requires a straight, wide stairway. For stairs leading to a front porch, consider adding a ramp. Make sure the stairs have handrails on both sides.

You may need more home modifications based on specific health issues for your elderly loved ones. For more help preparing a home for elder care, contact a local Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) for more suggestions.

In addition to home modifications, with a personal emergency response device, your loved one can notify you and emergency responders of a crisis, such as a fall down the stairs. Learn more here with this guide to Personal Emergency Response Systems for Seniors.