How Seniors Can Make Their Homes Safer

Most houses aren’t built for aging in place. They have narrow doorways, steep staircases and dim lighting, which can make it hard for seniors to get through their day-to-day life. In some cases, these features can make households riskier to age in.

If you’re a senior, or you’re living with a senior, you should think about making the following changes to your house.

Prepare for Emergencies

You’ve prepared for emergencies like house fires and floods already. You have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors (with fresh batteries) on every floor. You have a working sump pump in your sump basin. You have fire extinguishers and first aid kits. Isn’t that enough?

When you’re aging in place, these precautions aren’t enough. You’ll want to take some additional precautions to make sure that you can safely evacuate your home during emergencies and call first responders for help.

You’ll want to invest in smart home devices (for example, the Amazon Echo). Smart home devices can assist you with everyday tasks, like checking the weather and making doctor’s appointments. They can connect to other smart devices like your home’s security system, lights and thermostat. And finally, you can use a smart device to call for help (either contacting 911 through a landline connection or contacting a friend) when you don’t have your phone in hand.

If you have mobility issues, you’ll want an emergency tool that can help you evacuate your home quickly without risking injury. A stair evacuation chair is a perfect tool for this job. All you have to do is sit in the chair and secure yourself with the straps, then a helper (whether it’s a family member, caregiver or first responder) can guide the chair up/down stairs and out of the building. You should keep one of these near your staircase for emergencies.

Replace the Wood Flooring

While hardwood flooring is beautiful, it’s not an ideal choice for senior living. It’s very hard, and it presents a greater risk of injury from slips and falls.

So, what flooring material is better? A low-pile carpet is excellent because it offers a softer surface to fall on. It also adds traction, meaning your feet aren’t likely to slip and slide while you’re walking. Don’t choose a high-pile carpet — this can be a tripping hazard. For areas where carpeting might not be convenient, like the kitchen, try cork flooring.

Moving Shelves Lower

High shelving units and countertops can be risky. Seniors with balance issues could climb up step ladders or dining-room chairs to reach the shelf and fall. Seniors living with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis could injure themselves while stretching and grasping for items high above their heads.

It’ll be safer to move all of the shelves and cabinets lower down where everything will be easily within reach.

Switch to Induction Stoves

If you’re planning to renovate your kitchen in the near future, you should swap your gas stove for an induction stove. Induction stovetops are great for preventing accidental fires and burns because they don’t have open flames. Many induction stove models have automatic turn-off options in case the user forgets to turn off the burner and walks away.

These are some simple changes that can make your household safer. They’ll make aging in place a lot easier.