How to Stay Safe and Independent at Home: Home Modifications and Assistive Devices


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In recent years, more and more retirees favor the idea of aging in place rather than moving into costly senior living communities. In addition to affordability, seniors feel more comfortable aging in their own homes while having space and time for loved ones, friends, and neighbors.

However, the reality is that not every home is designed to assist and accommodate aging adults. Think of it this way, a bedroom painted pink with tiny furniture can’t suit the lifestyle of retirees facing many health concerns.

Over time, these common lacks of interior advancements and modifications can turn a loving home into a landmine that prevents seniors from enjoying a stress-free aging process. Therefore, home modifications are necessary to ensure their safety and independence if your parents choose to age in place.

Are you planning to remodel or add more safety features to your parents’ home? Explore our list of 6 must-do home modifications for aging in place so your parents can remain in their home safely and comfortably.


6 Must-Have Home Modifications for Aging in Place

What Are Home Modifications?


Home modifications include temporary or permanent alterations, remodelings, and adjustments to create a safer and more adaptable living environment for people with special needs, or in this case, seniors with certain safety and health concerns when living alone. Home modifications can range from minor to significant transformations to minimize the risk of injuries and dangers.

Necessary changes to structures or parts of a house, whether indoor or outdoor, are key factors in making seniors’ lives more accessible and secure, where they can move around and perform daily activities more comfortably.


The 6 Best Home Modifications to Consider for Aging in Place

Although modifying a house to meet seniors’ unique needs is crucial, not many homes are conceptualized with structural features supporting their evolving needs.

Are you looking for home modification ideas and tips for your parents and elderly family members? Consider the 6 best home modifications to accommodate your parents better and help them remain in their loving home longer.


Widen Doorways

While making a way in and out of the house is taken for granted by many of us, exiting, entering, and navigating through the house can be an uphill battle for seniors when they rely on wheelchairs or walkers for better mobility.

In some cases, narrow door frames can become physical barriers during emergencies, such as fire outbreaks, making rescues and evacuation more dangerous and challenging. That’s why widening doorways is a first and foremost must-do home modification to consider when making changes to your parents’ home. Wider doorways can offer your parents easy access, increased capability, and greater independence to go outdoors and indoors without help.


Flooring Modifications

Reworking the floor is another great course of action to take when ensuring independence and safety for seniors choosing to age in their homes. Since flooring is one of many reasons behind disasters, much-needed flooring modifications can transform the living spaces when your parents are disabled or have mobility issues.

Hardwood or laminate floors are easy to clean and provide a smooth passage for wheelchairs, but they can be very slippery compared to carpeted floors. While rugs and carpets can prevent slipping on wet surfaces, curling rugs can cause balance issues and eventual falling. Look around to decide which areas you want to cover with rugs or carpets, and make sure to tape them down with adhesive tape.


Install Grab Bars & Handrails


Grab bars or handrails firmly attached could be lifesavers for seniors in high-risk areas like bathrooms and bedrooms. With grab bars running along the walls, your parents can have extra support when watching their steps in their bathroom or getting in and out of a slippery bathtub. Hand railings also make it much safer to get up when using toilets or getting out of bed. Select grab bars that can withstand up to 250 pounds when installing and screw them into walls.


Add Extra Lighting System


As seniors’ vision declines, they may struggle to see, navigate, or perform daily tasks and activities in low-light conditions. Additional lighting systems are one of the primary home modifications for aging in place that can change the lives of many seniors. That’s why improving lighting in your parent’s home is crucial.

Proper lighting improvements can mean installing more lighting in hallways and bathrooms or placing floor or table lamps in reading areas or personal offices. Adhesive LED lights mounted underneath cabinets or inside closets are another excellent, low-cost tip to provide extra light to your parents’ entire house. It helps seniors avoid trips and falls by improving their mobility.

Take a tour and discuss with your parents to determine which type of lighting system works best for them based on their needs and living spaces. For example, motion-sensor lights or occupancy sensors make excellent upgrades to your parents’ home, providing proper lighting from room to room and outdoor areas. Another perk of having a motion-detection lighting system throughout the house is that it minimizes the need to find light switches. In addition to convenience, motion-sensor lights can save money on electricity bills because they turn off when no one is in the room.


Change Light Switches


Another home adjustment worth considering is repositioning light switches. As your parent’s age, they may lose the strength to reach for the light switches, especially if they use wheelchairs or walking canes for moving from room to room.

That being said, consider lowering the switches or extending the switch systems if your parents sit in wheelchairs or have joint-related problems that prevent them from reaching overhead. Invest in push light switches, which are far easier to operate than traditional flip switches due to less force required.


Replace Faucets and Door Knobs


Swapping round door knobs with lever handles can help your parents better function and open the doors when they have issues with their joints and grips. Likewise, you can also replace traditional twist faucets with levers.


The Perks of Aging in Place

Growing older at home, also known as “aging in place,” is a phenomenon that describes seniors’ decision to stay in their homes instead of residing in retirement homes.

There is a widespread belief that all older adults move to senior assisted living communities as early as possible once retiring. However, the need to age in place is more popular than ever, with several reports exposing that approximately 90% of seniors avoid moving away from home for as long as possible.

Why do seniors prefer aging in place? The plain reason why many seniors choose to age in place is cost-effectiveness. Given the soaring inflation and rising costs of everything, some seniors find themselves not having the financial means to afford the thriving lifestyle senior communities offer. By staying at home, seniors can expect to pay less for an in-home aide or homemaker services, ranging from as low as $10 to as high as $20 per hour, depending on where they live. This is considered more economical than dealing with the staggering costs of nursing homes and assisted living coming to around $43,000 and $82,000 annually.

At worst, seniors often fall into the false belief that Medicare will help finance their elder care. The truth is far from it. Although it can’t be denied that Medicare is a reliable tool to help seniors aged 65 and above seek the adequate and timely care they need, it doesn’t cover long-term care expenses. It means that seniors have to pay off incurred expenses out of their pockets, and these costs can be quite a headache to deal with. In addition to reduced monthly living costs and house budgets, seniors are motivated to remain in their homes due to the following reasons:

  • Greater comfort and convenience
  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased social interaction and meaningful connections
  • Higher level of control over finances and independence
  • Lower risks of contagious and recurring illnesses
  • Fewer changes and stressors when changing living environments


If you have questions about home modifications for aging in place or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more. 

At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.

For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us. 


Searching for senior living help? At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a visit.

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