Safety upgrades for seniors’ homes


Many seniors want to spend as long as possible residing in the comforts of their own homes. 

According to AARP’s 2021 “Home and Community Preferences Survey,” more than three-quarters of U.S. adults age 50 and older prefer living at home. But getting older often comes with certain deficits that may not make current living situations the safest for seniors.

Retirement Living reports that an older person is treated in an emergency room for a fall-related injury nearly once every 10 seconds. Falls cause millions of injuries and 32,000 deaths a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seniors may be affected by low vision, mobility limitations, cognitive decline, balance issues and loss of muscle strength. Certain adaptations may be necessary if seniors want to stay in their homes, particularly in older homes that have not recently been renovated.

Change knobs to levers

This is an easy modification. Levers are much easier for individuals with arthritis or persons who lack dexterity in their hands. Everything from doorknobs to faucet knobs can be replaced with levers.

Create zero-threshold entryways

Zero-threshold entryways, also known as flush entries, do not require crossing a lip or any raised barrier. They can appear on doorways and showers and make it easy for people who have mobility issues, as well as those using scooters, walkers and wheelchairs, to move about unencumbered.

Clear clutter and move obstructions

One inexpensive modification is to remove extraneous furniture and accessories. Such a change widens walking spaces in a room and accommodates walkers and wheelchairs. In addition, furniture can be pushed to the room’s perimeter to make moving around easier. It’s also important to remove area rugs, as they’re often tripping hazards.

Install grab rails and supports

Minimizing falls could come down to providing support in key rooms of a home. Adding grab rails in the bathroom near the toilet and in the shower can help a person use those facilities without assistance. Install a grab rail close to seating in the kitchen to add support.

Consider smart lighting

Motion-activated or darkness-activated lighting switches and fixtures can automatically turn on lights, thereby improving visibility. Also, rocker light switches are easier to maneuver than standard toggles.

Invest in a stairlift

Single-story homes are preferable for growing older gracefully, but many seniors live in multi-story homes. A stairlift makes a multi-floor home more accessible, according to Elder, an eldercare service provider. Stairlifts make it easier to traverse staircases and reduce the risk for falls.


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