How to Convert Your House into a Senior-Friendly Home

October 25, 2019

Do you have an aging mother, father, or family member who needs your help? Everyone deserves to live in a home they can feel comfortable in, no matter their age. If your home isn’t senior-friendly, however, then there a lot of things you have to do and a lot more to consider.

No matter what room needs to be upgraded, you want to make sure it’s done right. Here are some steps on how to properly convert your house into a very senior friendly home before your loved one arrives.

Danger Starts Outside

It’s a fact that the world is not perfect. Seniors have to face certain dangers day in and day out, starting with the outside. Many homes consist of pathways where the sidewalks are cracked and the surfaces are unevenly paved. Some driveways are so steep that they need stairs leading up to the house, but some of these stairways have no railings. The front entrance is also the busiest part of your home where foot traffic comes and goes, mail is delivered to your door, and so on.

When you get inside, that’s when even more dangers can arise where you may not consider too dangerous at first.

  • Floors can be slippery, especially tiles and hardwood.
  • The stairways and some entryways and halls to the other rooms may be poorly lit.
  • Seniors may not be able to detect light switches right away, so they could stumble and fall in the dark.
  • Doorframes can become their own obstacles; not every senior is good at stepping over them.

Step Toward a Beloved Home

Before you even come close to bringing your aging loved one to your home, the driveway and front hallway both need to be addressed for any and all of these dangers.

  • Install non-slip flooring in the main entryway of your home.
  • Repair any and all uneven or cracked areas on your driveway and walkway heading toward your home.
  • Add non-slip strips or scuff the surface of walkways to improve footing for seniors.
  • If it’s possible, get a no-rise entry with ramps made and installed.
  • Install rails on both sides of stairs if you have them. These have to be one-and-a-half inches in diameter to accommodate grips.
  • Use contrast colour strips at the top and bottom stairs to increase seniors’ visibility.
  • Turn entryways and front halls into safe zones for seniors. Increase lighting and add motion-sensor lights on ramps and stairs, and point lighting at the back and front door locks.

Make a Kitchen Everyone Will Love

Your mom or dad may still love to cook and bake using their family recipes. Why not help them out by creating a kitchen that’s functional for everyone? The goal of this part is to increase accessibility and prevent senior loved ones from bending and crouching too much. If this improves the room’s aesthetics also, bonus!

Make appliances work for mom and dad, not the other way round. Switch to kitchen appliances with simple push button features and easy to understand controls. If possible, convert your oven to a side swing or wall oven. This will prevent seniors from having to bend to put in and pull out things from the oven when it’s hot. Microwave drawers are a great addition to a senior’s kitchen, allowing for easier access and increasing your own countertops’ space.

Next, you need to make the pantry accessible. Open shelving allows access to the most frequently used items. Convert the fronts of your pantry doors to be glass so your loved ones can identify items without too much effort. Roll out trays can also further that sense of accessibility.

Lastly, the sink needs your attention. Overly hot water can burn seniors if they’re not too careful. You may need to do the following to make the kitchen sink a little safer for your loved ones:

  • Set the hot water heater temperature to 48 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Insulate any exposed hot water pipes, such as under the sink.
  • Convert the kitchen sink to a single lever faucet, and installed pedal-controlled faucets for even easier use.
  • Install pressure-balanced valves as well. This can help provide water at a steady temperature regardless of any pressure fluctuations.

A New Bathroom Can Make a World of Difference

Safe, accessible bathrooms for seniors don’t just happen magically overnight. You will need to tackle this room to keep your loved ones both protected at home and independent.

Many slips and falls happen in and around the shower and bathtub areas. Even the bathmat, specifically mats that are cheaply made, are not non-slip and will increase the risk of a fall and injury.

To make the bathroom even more accessible to your loved one, here is what you will need to do:

  • Add new non-slip flooring throughout the bathroom and shower areas. Non-skid bath mats will help too.
  • Install a grab bar in the shower, tub, and next to the toilet to prevent falls. These should be well-placed in a way that makes sense and isn’t too intrusive to your own bathroom experience. U-shaped, vertical, or angular bars work better than diagonal ones, because the latter may increase the number of falls instead of decreasing them. Make sure there is back bracing on the walls where you can install and use these grab bars; they should support weight of 250-300 pounds.
  • Add a fold-down seat or bench in the shower. Some seats come with waterproof padding for extra comfort, while others are built to extend outside the bathtub for even easier entry and exit.
  • For the shower head, install a hand-held, adjustable one with a hose that’s six feet long. This will make sure seniors can direct the water where it’s needed most.
  • Add extra lighting in the shower stall if the senior bathroom user has trouble seeing. A dimly lit shower adds to the risk of slipping.

Follow these tips to make your home more senior-friendly and pleasant for everyone to live in. Would you like assistance with upgrading the bathroom? Contact Accessible You. We can give your senior loved ones a bathroom they can feel safe and independent in.