As seniors grow older, they often find their homes need to be upgraded to suit their changing needs. This includes simple, easy-to-do, home safety improvements to reduce their risk of falling or getting injured, although some more substantial upgrades may also be required.
Luckily, these renovations can be done to any home, and there are even ways to get help paying for the more expensive home safety upgrades.
Simple Home Safety Precautions and Modifications
- If your loved one lives alone, consider purchasing and installing an emergency call or medical alert system.
- First-aid kits and emergency measures should be easily accessible and not placed on a high shelf.
- Seniors with arthritis or grip difficulty can benefit from replacing doorknobs with levers.
- Make sure all doors open and close easily. Regularly check for loose screws on doorknobs and hinges.
- Run cords and electrical wires along the walls using cable clips or under rugs to keep them from tripping up your loved one.
- Make sure rugs don’t slip by applying caulk or grip tape to their undersides.
- Install and mount a surge protector in a safe, easy-to-reach place to avoid having to crawl or stoop to access out-of-the-way power outlets.
Securing the Bathroom
Make sure there are no leaks from the sink or bathtub to create a slippery floor. Be sure to cover the bathroom floor and the bathtub floor with non-slip mats.
An accessible sink should be installed for those who have difficulty bending down or for seniors in wheelchairs. Similarly, the toilet should be at a suitable height for those who have difficulty getting up and down. Install handrails near the toilet for stability—don’t rely on shower rods or any other nearby fixtures not specifically meant for this purpose.
Install handrails in the shower and grab bars in the bathtub to make getting in and out of the tub easy.
Lighting Is Key to Fall Prevention
Falls are the number one cause of injuries to seniors, so be sure the house is well-lit. Install as many night lights and lamps as necessary. All pathways—and especially stairs—should be illuminated.
To cut down on energy usage, use LEDs in stairwells.
Sensor light switches can do away with the need to blindly scrape along the wall for a light switch from room to room at night. Hand-held remotes or voice-activated sensors for lights can help seniors moderate light levels from a comfy position in a chair or bed.
Outside the house, motion-activated lights can provide security and help seniors get in and out of the home at night.
Get Financial Help
Upgrades can be expensive, especially if you need thousands of dollars worth of work done.
Luckily, the government has some programs in place to ease the cost burden.The USDA’s Very Low Income Housing Repair program can offer up to $7,500 in grants and up to $20,000 in 1% interest loans for eligible seniors.
There may also be state-specific programs for your area, so check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see what may be available.