Home Fixes and Renovations for Aging in Place Safely

January 23, 2024
January 23, 2024
Man looking over papers

According to AARP’s Home and Community Preferences Survey, nearly 80 percent of adults 50 and older want to age in place at home. While that fact is not surprising, the question becomes: Can their homes accommodate them comfortably and safely as they age? The reality for most people is that their homes cannot unless some changes are made. Depending on the circumstance, those changes can range from simple adjustments to structural modifications; however, here are some of the most common renovations and fixes to help with aging in place at home.

Is your home ready for aging in place?

Chances are, when you bought your home, you didn’t consider if the doorways were wide enough for wheelchairs or if the bathrooms already had grab bars. When decorating, you also likely didn’t worry about rugs being a trip hazard or if the furniture was at a height that made it easier to get up and down. But as you age, issues with limited mobility, vision, hearing, balance, and even cognitive impairments can raise safety concerns that make adjustments to the space necessary. For example, the above-referenced Home and Community Preferences survey found:  

  • 79 percent of participants said they would need to modify bathrooms with grab bars or no-step showers.
  • 71 percent of participants said their home has inside and outside accessibility issues.
  • 61 percent of participants said they would need an emergency response system.
  • 48 percent of participants said they would need smart-home devices, like a voice-activated home assistant or a doorbell camera.

A home safety checklist for aging in place

Home modifications aren’t just about accessibility and comfort. Safety is also key. In fact, falls among adults 65 and older caused over 36,000 deaths in 2020, making it the leading cause of injury death for that group, and that same year, emergency departments recorded three million visits for falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Many falls in this age group occur at home, which makes fall prevention an important factor to consider as you modify your home for aging in place.

So, where do you start? This home safety checklist can help you make common adjustments and determine where more significant modifications may be needed.

On the stairs and in the hall

  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs.  
  • Use adequate lighting with light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs and at each end of the hall.  
  • Keep areas where you walk free from clutter, such as books, papers, clothes, and shoes.
  • Double-check that all carpets are fixed firmly to the floor and put no-slip strips on tile and wooden floors.
  • Avoid using throw rugs or small area rugs in any area you walk.

In bathrooms  

  • Mount grab bars near toilets and inside and outside your tub or shower.
  • Place no-slip mats or strips on all surfaces that may get wet.
  • Use night lights.

In the bedroom

  • Place night lights and light switches close to your bed.
  • Keep your cell phone near your bed.

In ALL living areas

  • Keep electric cords away from walking paths.
  • Affix all carpets and large area rugs firmly to the floor.
  • Arrange furniture so it is out of your way when you walk.
  • Ensure your sofas and chairs are at a height that is easy to get in and out of.
  • Never walk on wet floors.
  • Keep often-used items within easy reach.
  • Preferably, use a reach stick for high items. Or, if you must use a step stool, make sure it is steady and has a handrail on top.  
  • Be aware of pets when you’re standing or walking so they don’t accidentally trip you.
  • Keep emergency numbers pre-programmed in your cell phone.
  • Invest in a personal emergency response system, a wearable call button that puts you in touch with help in the event of a fall.  
  • Consider modifications that could make your home more accessible, including ramps, widening doorways, and/or adding a chair lift.
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Senior living is an alternative to expensive renovations  

While the above fixes and renovations to your home can make aging in place safer, it can be a lot to manage on your own. In addition, the costs, should you need more substantial home modifications, can also impact your budget. For example, according to Angie’s List, these are the average costs of some of the most common modifications to make a home more accessible:

  • Adding grab bars and handrails: $100–$500 each
  • Interior railings: $1,000 on average
  • Cabinet and sink installations: $1,500–$8,500
  • Installing non-slip flooring: $3–$22 per square foot
  • Installing a stairlift: $1,500–$5,000 each
  • Converting to bathrooms and kitchens that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines: $9,000–$40,000
  • Widening a doorway: $700–$2,500
  • Widening hallways: $30,000–$40,000
  • Adding a wheelchair ramp to an existing deck: $1,000–$4,000
  • Adding railings: $1,000–$2,500  
  • Installing a front porch or patio lift: $2,000–$6,000
  • Widening paths: $650–$2,000, depending on the length of the path
  • Increase outdoor lighting: $2,000–$6,000
  • Adding motion sensing lights: $200–$600

On the other hand, senior living may offer an easier option as communities like ours are designed with safety features from emergency response systems to grab bars to wheelchair ramps, along with an easy-to-navigate environment that minimizes steps and fall hazards as standard.

Plus, our senior living community offers conveniences such as home maintenance, housekeeping, laundry, nutritious meals, and transportation, in addition to multiple levels of support and care, should you need it. You’ll also enjoy a full calendar of social events, outings, and enrichment opportunities!

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