7 Home Modifications to Keep Aging Adults at Home

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Diana Rodriguez on October 17, 2020
  • long-term-care-senior-woman-at-home
    How to Stay Safe While Remaining at Home
    Many older people want to live at home instead of moving to an assisted living or senior retirement home. However, with aging come new risks at home. Things that once were safe might not be any more. A few simple changes can help keep your home safe for a while longer. 
  • long-term-care-senior-home-safety
    1. Brighten lighting and reduce clutter.
    Falls are a serious risk for seniors. If you have trouble seeing, you're even more likely to fall and get hurt. The fix? Install more lighting in the home. Make sure bulbs are bright so it's easier to see. Place nightlights throughout the house. Keep outdoor lighting turned on at night. Keep the floor free of clutter. Keep all electrical cords safely tucked away to prevent tripping. Use double-stick tape to stick rugs to the floor or remove them.
  • long-term-care-elderly-couple-stairs
    2. Make stairs safer.
    Going up and down stairs can be hard as you age. Try to arrange your home so all of your needs are on one floor to avoid going up and down stairs all day. Move your bedroom to the first floor if you can. If you do have to use stairs, you can reduce your risk of falling. Remove clutter and rugs. Make sure stairs are well lit. Install nonslip grip treads on each stair to prevent slipping. If necessary, consider a stair lift.
  • long-term-care-home-safety
    3. Make bathing safer.
    Getting in and out of the shower or bathtub can be tricky if you have trouble with movement or balance. Consider installing a walk-in shower in place of your bathtub. Get a sturdy plastic bench to sit on in the shower or tub. Make sure you have a nonslip mat in the tub. It's also important to lower the temperature on the water heater to prevent burns.
  • long-term-care-home-safety
    4. Install handrails.
    Handrails can help you move around safely and reduce your chances of falling. Handrails are especially important in the bathroom. Install one next to the toilet. Install another one in the bathtub or shower. Place bath mats with rubber backing on the floor in the bathroom to prevent slipping. You can also install a special raised seat for the toilet. You can also get a seat for the toilet with arm rests to help you get up and down.
  • long-term-care-household-chores
    5. Modify the kitchen.
    The kitchen is a prime spot for accidents. To make things safer, change where you keep the dishes, pots, pans and utensils you use the most. You should be able to get to them without reaching or climbing. Change the knobs or pulls on cabinets to make them easier to open. Make sure knobs on the stove are working properly and are easy to turn. The refrigerator door should open without having to pull too hard. Consider replacing your kitchen faucet. It's easier to move a handle up and down than it is to twist knobs. 
  • long-term-care-elderly-woman-fall
    6. Get an alert system.
    Technology can help you stay safe and get help in an emergency. Install an alarm system in your home. Make sure you have working smoke detectors on every floor of your home. You should also have them in any outside areas where you might sleep. Consider getting a medical alert device you wear and use to call for help if you fall or need emergency help. If you have trouble using the phone, consider an assistive device to help you hear better and speak more loudly into the phone.
  • long-term-care-at-home-caregiver
    7. Bring in help.
    Sometimes you can stay in your home a little longer if you find someone to come help out a few times a week. Check out services in your area that provide home help for seniors. You might want someone to help you with tasks that are hard for you, like doing laundry or fixing meals. Hire someone to clean your home or take care of odd jobs like shoveling snow and cleaning gutters.
7 Home Modifications to Keep Aging Adults at Home

About The Author

  1. Fall Prevention: Simple Tips to Prevent Falls. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/fall-prevention/art-20047358?pg=1
  2. Guidelines for Preventing Falls. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00135 
  3. Home Modifications. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://gero.usc.edu/nrcshhm/resources/fs_home_mod.pdf 
  4. Preventing Falls at Home. Eldercare.gov. http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Resources/Brochures/docs/Preventing_Falls_Brochure_pagebypage.pdf 
  5. Staying in Your Home, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://longtermcare.gov/where-you-live-matters/staying-in-your-home/

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 17
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.