6 Ways to Make Any Home More Senior-Friendly

If you can’t find a suitable retirement home or assisted living facility for a senior member of the family, why not just make your home more senior-friendly so they can live with you comfortably? While this can seem like a daunting task, it really only has two main goals: safety and accessibility.

In general, seniors have less mobility and are more prone to injury compared to younger adults. And making a couple changes to your house can assure that they have safe and efficient access to their everyday needs in the comfort of home.

Give Your Senior a Conveniently Located Bedroom

Placement is key to a home’s senior-friendliness. And it starts in the room where your senior will begin most days: the bedroom.

You don’t want grandma or grandpa to have to walk a long distance just to reach the bathroom, kitchen, or the living room. So get them a bedroom that’s closer to these daily essentials.

If possible, make it a bedroom that has its own bathroom (which, in itself, should be senior friendly, but we’ll get to that later). It would also be ideal if they didn’t have to go through one or more flights of stairs just to reach the bathroom or the kitchen.

A well-ventilated bedroom on the ground floor where everything else is located would be the perfect location.

Apart from being close to the essentials, ground floor placement also means easier access to the outdoors, which can be great for encouraging your senior to exercise and still go out on a regular basis – good for any senior’s mental and physical health.

But don’t just pick any room that’s close to everything else. Make sure that it’s a room with a reasonable amount of natural light and ventilation.

Install Easier-Access Modifications

Simple tasks like sitting on the toilet or using the sink are things that younger adults often find easy and take for granted. This is no longer the case when you’re pushing 70 or 90.

The joints and the bones get more tender. The muscles tend to get weaker. It can become much harder to move and do simple tasks once you go deep into your senior years.

But certain modifications can make it easier for seniors to accomplish such tasks without physically straining their bodies or getting injured. This includes an elevated toilet that’s easier to sit on if you have weak knees, and an elevated sink that can be used without having to bend fragile backs.

In the bathroom, it could also help to install anti-slip rubber pads on the floor to lessen chances of bathroom accidents.

Meanwhile, in the bedroom, an elevated bed frame can make it much easier for a person with weaker joints and a bad back to get in and out of bed. Apart from elevated furniture, you can also install grab bars wherever any slipping is likely to occur, like near the toilet and the shower.

Grab bars aren’t just for safety; they’re also for convenience. For instance, if you install them near the bed, they can make getting up and lying down even easier for a senior’s aching joints and bones.

The day ends and begins on the bed, so for pete’s sake, don’t let your senior sleep on some 10-year old innerspring mattress with a suspiciously moldy smell. Make sure your senior sleeps on a mattress that’s mold-free and has just the right amount of firmness and support to keep them comfortable.

One way to ensure this is to get a mattress that offers a lengthy trial and refund period, so your senior can actually try the bed out to see whether it’s right for them or not before committing to a final purchase.

Install Light-Up Light Switches

Ask your local hardware store if they carry light switches that light up when they’re turned off. This way, even if it’s pitch black and all lights are off, the light switches are still visible.

For seniors, this means less time trying to find their way in the dark, which means less chances of accidents resulting in injuries. You don’t even have to install these in every room of the house – just the rooms that your senior is most likely to use.

But since you’re going to go to the trouble of installing them anyway, they’re a great way to increase safety and convenience in any room, not just for ones that need to be senior-friendly. Light-up light switches – genius, isn’t it? Why aren’t these things mandatory everywhere?

Keep It Clean and Clutter-Free

To most young adults, scattered toys on the floor are an eyesore, or at worst, a painful piece of Lego to step on. But to seniors, scattered toys, especially ones that are slippery or have wheels, can mean a trip to the hospital.

More trash and clutter on the floor just increases the likelihood of an accident taking place. So clean up your act, but don’t stop with the clutter.

Make sure your home is free of mold, lead, formaldehyde, asbestos, or anything else that might compromise your senior’s health. If necessary, hire a contractor who can inspect your home and tell you if there’s anything you need to worry about.

Apart from doing a full household inspection, get the entire household to adopt hygienic habits: Make sure not to store food in the refrigerator long enough for bacteria to start cultivating. Take out the trash on a regular basis. Wipe and sweep up any visible dust or dirt. Disinfect your entire home.

If you don’t already do all this, it’ll all be easier to accomplish if you divide chores among different members of the household. It’s going to seem hard at first, but the reward of a clean and accident/disease-free home will be well worth everyone’s best efforts.

Make a List of Important Phone Numbers

Your senior’s doctor should be on the top of this list. Next are the nearest emergency services that your area offers, followed by relatives and friends who’ll be able to respond to emergencies.

The list doesn’t have to be all emergency numbers. You can also put the pharmacist’s number in there for convenience. And if your senior wants to, even contact numbers of their closest friends.

Print or write out this list and put it beside every available phone in the house. Should anything happen to your senior, they or anyone nearby can easily contact the right people.

Install Ramps and/or a Stair Lift

Ramps are a must if your senior needs a wheelchair to stay mobile. And even if they don’t, ramps can still make level changes easier for them to navigate.

If you have no choice but to give your senior an upstairs bedroom, and they already find it difficult to use the stairs, the best course of action would be a stair lift.

While installing these can be expensive, they’re the best way to ensure that your senior can safely go up and down the stairs whenever they please. Make sure to get one that’s sturdy and easy to maintain.

Following some or all of the abovementioned changes and modifications can allow you to turn your home into a senior-friendly environment. You don’t have to follow everything – just the ones that you know your senior needs in order to be 100% safe and comfortable inside your home.