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Home Modifications for Seniors to Make Aging in Place Simpler

Posted by Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity on 9:15 AM on February 2, 2021

Safety is one of the main reasons seniors move out of their houses. If you or a loved one are among the 90% of people who want to live in their homes after turning 65, there are more ways than ever to reach that goal.

Seniors can enjoy the independence of staying at home longer by adding modifications to their home. Some are simple, while others are more involved, but all of them can make your home work for you.

Three images. From left to right: Someone installing a grab bar on a wall, installing a lever-handle doorknob, cutting a piece of yellow tape on the floor.

Common Aging in Place Home Modifications for Seniors

Aging in place home modifications are about making your home fit your lifestyle – not the other way around. Look at the needs of the senior in your life and consider what adjustments would have the greatest impact.

Here are some of the most common home safety features that can better help seniors age in place:

  • Non-slip floor surfaces. Even when dry, tile and plastic flooring can lead to falls. Make sure walking surfaces have some form of traction to prevent accidental slipping.
  • Bathroom grab bars. The bathroom can be a hotspot for senior falls. A simple metal bar secured to the wall at key standing and sitting points can make all the difference for their safety.
  • A personal alert system. Today's alert devices integrate with smart home technology to pinpoint the location of an incident in the home. This decreases emergency response time in case of a fall or other accident.

Learn more about Age Well at Home TM

  • A step-less home entrance. If a senior can leave their home without assistance, even one or two steps can become challenging day after day. A ramp can go a long way toward getting in and out of the house with ease.
  • Wide doorways. While wide doorways are beneficial for individuals who require a wheelchair or walker to navigate their home, senior of all ages benefit from having large, clear pathways in their home, unobstructed by barriers or objects that could induce a fall.
  • Lever-handled doorknobs. Round doorknobs require twisting and gripping that can strain the muscles in the wrist, especially for older people. Lever-handled doorknobs rely on downward motion, which puts less pressure on seniors' joints and bones.

Depending on their space and level of mobility, you may consider even more home modifications for seniors, like:

  • Handheld showerheads
  • Motion-activated nightlights
  • Heightened platforms for the oven, dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer

Check out the CDC's "Check for Safety" checklist, which can help identify the areas of a senior's home that could be a potential hazard.

How Home Modifications Improve Senior Quality of Life

Most houses aren't designed with the aging process in mind. Home modifications can improve everyday quality of life by reducing stress and removing barriers. Don't underestimate how much a living space can impact quality of life in both measurable and invisible ways, especially for seniors who've become familiar with and attached to a home.

The benefits of these home modifications aren't limited to seniors, either – they can make home a safer, more accessible place for anyone, from the elderly to toddlers and everyone in between.

Where to Find Help for Modifying a Senior's Home

If you're unsure whether a home is safe for the seniors in your life, help is available. Minnesota's Senior LinkAge Line® connects older people to a variety of services like at-home care, inspections, and more.

Age Well at Home™ is a program from Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity that advocates for Twin Cities seniors by identifying ways to navigate their lives at home with modifications like grab bars, walk-in showers, smart technologies, and more. Click below to find out how Age Well at Home™ can help you or your loved one stay at home later in life with confidence.

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Tags: Age in Place, Homeowner Tips, Age Well at Home, 2021

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