Aging in place: Modifying a home for older adults

Home interior construction workers

According to a 2013 report by the Administration on Aging, only 4 percent of Americans age 65 or older are living in nursing homes.

That’s great news. It means, in part, that in-home care agencies such as Care & Comfort at Home are truly fulfilling their mission — that is, to help aging adults live in their own home, happy and healthy, for as long as possible.

But if seniors want to remain at home (also known as “aging in place”), then their home also needs to be a safe and nurturing physical environment. The same house that was considered “safe” when its inhabitants were in their 30s and 40s is probably not as safe for them now in their 70s, 80s, or 90s. To help it be safe again, modifications have to be made. The home has to “grow” and change, just as those living within it have grown and changed.

The benefits to modifying an older adult’s home

Here are just some of the reasons why modifying an older adult’s home makes good sense:

• Preventing falls and injuries

• Reducing health problems

• Delaying disability and difficulty with self-care

• Potentially reducing medical expenses

• Increasing feelings of confidence for family caregivers

• Helping seniors more easily move around and use the home

• Increasing the home’s value

• Making the home more accessible for older visitors who might have difficulty walking or a disability

• Allowing seniors to remain in the home and age within their community

How to modify an older adult’s home

Here are some of the things (both relatively simple and fairly inexpensive) that can be done to help make a home a better, safer place for an older adult:

• Provide bright lighting at entrance ways and bright, non-glare lighting throughout the house.

• Install sturdy handrails on both sides of stairs, inside and outside of the home.

• Remove clutter.

• Repair or remove worn or torn carpeting or rugs.

• Add non-slip flooring.

• Add stair treads.

• Replace knob-style door and faucet handles with levers.

• Install anti-scald faucets.

• Put grab bars in the bathroom by the shower, tub, and toilet.

• Replace toggle electric switches with rocker-style switches.

• Place adhesive treads in the tub and shower.

Upgrades can be done gradually, as needed

Modifications don’t have to happen all at once. They can be made gradually along with other normal, necessary upgrades and repairs to your home or as part of any planned remodeling. Decisions about specific modifications can be made based on their cost, the current condition and design of your home, the current needs of the older adults living in the home, and their long-term plans.

The important thing is to not put off what does need to be done. Modifying the home to be safer and more accessible, sooner rather than later — before a fall or injury occurs — can help safeguard the health and well-being of the older adults within it now and for years to come.

Such changes to the home, in combination with in-home care from Care & Comfort at Home, can help seniors to continue to “age in place” for a much longer amount of time. To learn more about our services and how we can help you or your loved one live at home, please call 630-333-9262 in Chicagoland, 720-788-0611 in the Denver area, or just CLICK HERE to use our online contact form for both locations.


Information courtesy of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).