Modifying Your Home to Improve Safety and Accessibility

 In Your Home

According to AARP, almost 90 percent of adults over age 65 want to stay in their homes as long as possible. For many, aging in place makes sense. It allows people to stay in the communities they know well and ensures the preservation of friendships and connections. More than anything, it allows seniors to maintain their independence longer, which is often less expensive than moving to a care facility.

If you’re thinking about aging in place in your home, the National Institute on Aging has a great article with suggestions on finding the help you need to continue living independently. Meanwhile, here are some recommendations on home modifications to increase safety and accessibility.

Top home modifications for safety and accessibility

There are many accommodations you can make to improve safety and accessibility — especially if you’re a do-it-yourselfer and are game to tackle these projects solo. The first step is to conduct an assessment so you can identify anything in the home that presents a potential problem or hazard. Evaluate each room, and create a list of items that need addressing. Common modifications include:

  • Replacing door knobs and faucet handles with levers.
  • Swapping out drawer and cabinet handles with easy-to-grab bars or pulls.
  • Installing grab bars in bathroom showers/bathtubs and near toilets. (Sometimes this is covered under your Medicare Advantage plan.)
  • Adding a shower seat and taller toilet seat.
  • Installing handrails on both sides of stairwells and at all of the home’s entrances.
  • Removing throw rugs and covering or rerouting power cords that present a tripping hazard.

Other recommended modifications include wider doorways and ramps to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs, though it’s usually best to hire a contractor for major structural repairs.

Find a great contractor

Jobs that might require plumbing, electrical, or construction know-how definitely call for a professional. To find the best contractor for the job, ask friends, family, and your insurance company for recommendations. Each has a relationship with reliable contractors and has reviewed, vetted, and chosen reputable companies. Taking this route ensures you don’t fall victim to one of the numerous home improvement scams many seniors have endured.

Interview at least three contractors who specialize in aging-in-place modifications so you get a good range (and idea) of the going rates for the type of work you require. Request a written bid from each one that includes the same information (type of materials, work). And don’t be afraid to negotiate!

Try to stay local, as a local contractor has local references, a local business license, and a certificate of insurance you can verify. Hiring local also means that if you run into issues later, problems can be resolved more quickly.

Think smaller

In certain instances, it makes more sense to avoid home renovations and instead look for a smaller home, which can have numerous advantages. For example, you’ll have fewer rooms to clean and less yard work, not to mention lower utility bills. By finding a new home, you can relocate to a space that better accommodates your needs with single-story floor plans and accessible bathrooms. Best of all, if your current home is paid for, you’re likely to turn a profit from its sale that you can put toward future living expenses.

Aging at home has become a much more popular option for many people, especially as Baby Boomers grow older and retire. With the right approach and thinking ahead to what your health might look like down the road, you can set yourself up for a comfortable, safe way of life as you enjoy your golden years.

Showing 2 comments
  • Avatar
    Terrance
    Reply

    Removing rugs is a very important detail. Not only can it be a trip hazard, but if not maintained, it can affect your health as well which is not safe. Very good points here.

Leave a Comment

Related Posts

How-To: Change Your Facebook Password

Social media networks, like Facebook, require a username and password to log in. We must protect our privacy and personal accounts from cyber hackers to avoid being taken advantage of. Prepare for Cybersecurity Awareness Month this upcoming October, and ensure you have a strong and secure Facebook password. Whether you need to change your Facebook [...]

When Caregiving Calls

Before we knew about COVID-19, I was living the life of a grad student at the University of Florida, where I am pursuing an MBA. I volunteered with the Gator track team, was active with my church, and enjoyed Gainesville nightlife with my classmates. The weekend after Spring Break, my friends and I were relaxing […]

How-To: Get Your Groceries Delivered

Now more than ever, grocery delivery services have been in high demand due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. There are many different services to choose from, but here are a couple to get you started. These applications are available for both Androids and iPhones along with web access on your computer or other device. Many […]

A Conversation with Carolyn: A Look at Life After Downsizing

Carolyn Roper, an active member of the Atlanta Regional Advisory Committee on Aging, spent some time chatting with me about her personal experience with downsizing. Carolyn and her late husband of fifty-three years moved twelve times before finally settling down in a three-bedroom condominium in metro Atlanta. For fourteen years, they lived in this spacious […]

It’s Not Your Fault: Surviving the Devastation of Financial Exploitation

The poster in the hospital room was jarring. It asked: “Does your partner or caregiver take your money or Social Security, make you ask for money, or refuse to give you money?” After a few more questions, it said “If you answered yes …, you are experiencing abuse.” Why would a hospital post such a […]

Help three ways

Your needs come first. How can we help you? Call now, open a chat window, or leave a message for us to contact you later.

Looking for the latest guidance on the Covid-19 virus?

The CDC has created this video: “Covid019: What Older Adults Need to Know.”  You can also read CDC’s full list of pandemic-related recommendations.

If you are looking to connect with resources and services for older persons and individuals and disabilities in metro Atlanta, please contact us at empowerline.org or 404-463-3333.