Aging in Place: 6 Important Home Modifications for the Elderly

Aging in Place: 6 Important Home Modifications for the Elderly

In many cases, a few simple remodeling projects can help seniors age in place. Here are 6 of the most important home modifications for the elderly.

Given that nearly 90% of Americans fear aging, it's no wonder that homes are still designed for people who are middle-aged and younger.

However, if you're planning on aging in place, you're going to need to make a few home modifications for the elderly. These small bits of remodeling will allow you or your loved one to enjoy your home long after mobility issues have started to arise.

Here are six tips to make your home more comfortable for the elderly.

1. Adding a Ramp

As we get older, climbing up the stairs is no fun at all. Even if we don't need to be wheelchair bound, lifting our knees way up to take the stairs might not be as feasible.

Something as simple as a ramp can make it easier to get in and out of our home. While we might still have to deal with the stairs inside our home, dealing with stairs that are slippery in the winter doesn't have to be a constant struggle. Instead, a simple ramp at a low incline can do the trick.

Adding a ramp might not be as simple as we think at first. In fact, stairs are actually fairly efficient when it comes to taking up space. Ramps must take up more space in order to be easy to climb.

Adding a concrete ramp with a strong railing will be an investment but will be well worth it. Read more now to find out about what kind of ramp options you could have.

2. More Places to Sit

One of the things that are perpetually missing in and around our home as we get older are seats when we need them. Doing the dishes, cooking, or even bathing can be a chore when we're struggling with balance or standing up. If we have accessibility issues, they might not be an option.

One of the best fixes is to add a shower chair to help when we're bathing. A shower chair is a great addition for an elderly person as it takes off the burden of having to stand up and risk slipping in the shower. It also lends some balance where we might lose it trying to wash one foot then the other for instance.

Think creatively about more places you could add seating. Being able to sit down and do tasks gives us that extra security and balance when we most need it. Having the option to sit when we get fatigued is important with age.

3. Help Getting Up the Stairs

While adding a ramp to get into a home is one thing, adding a ramp to the interior of a home is something else entirely. It's often not possible to add anything of the sort.

In homes with high and steep stairs, a chairlift or a stair lift is the perfect solution. While it's a fairly extreme addition to a home, it's one that is necessary to make it easier to age in place. When you're looking to stay in your home no matter what your mobility limits are, you need to make serious modifications.

Even if a stair lift is too much for you, consider adding a second railing. If you have a wide staircase with a railing attached to the outside of the staircase, perhaps a second one that's parallel will help. Having a second railing means that going up the stairs will be half as hard with that extra hand to help stabilize you.

4. Moving Handles Around

All over a home there are handles to doors and cabinets that are small, unforgiving, and can be difficult to open. Rather than having to struggle with these, you could always switch them out.

For elderly homeowners, traditional handles might not work as well. They might look nice, but they might not be easy to grab ahold of. Rather than continuing to struggle with them, you could make modifications.

Handles on most cabinets aren't permanent. They were designed for a certain aesthetic, but often the handles can be moved.

Having handles in user-friendly and easy-to-reach places allows you to be able to get the things you need with no hassle at all. You can open doors and closets without having to bend down or move your hands in awkward positions.

5. Greasing Up Hinges

One of the things in the way of elderly people who are trying to age in place is the number of doors and drawers that exist in general.

We often forget to take care of them. There aren't many people who take apart their drawer system to inspect for debris on the bearings unless there's something wrong with the drawers.

However, some regular maintenance can go a long way. A little bit of troubleshooting now can ensure that you won't be dealing with major problems later.

Simply spraying hinges with WD-40 can ensure they're easier to open and easier to close.

6. Taking Things from High Shelves

In most homes, when we run out of space to store laterally, we start moving things up. If we have a surplus of kitchen items or ingredients, they'll go up on a shelf rather than being crammed into a drawer.

However, as we get older, it's harder to put things up high.

Now is the time to get creative with storage. Find short, stackable containers that don't reach any higher than eye level for your elderly loved one. Put art and things to look at nice and high but keep all the practical things low to the ground.

Home Modifications for the Elderly Can Be Simple

Home modifications for the elderly don't have to entail a chop saw, a power drill, and a whole lot of dust. They can be as simple as moving a handle or clearing a path to an appliance.

Knowing what your loved one needs is the most important element of making a home more friendly for the elderly.

Check out our latest guide to making a bedroom optimized for elderly people.

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