Remodeling for a Safer Home for the Elderly

Senior living is all about mobility and accessibility. The typical home is designed for active adults and healthy children, but a home for seniors may need remodeling to remove barriers, lower countertops, and create a safe environment.



One out of three seniors over 65 fall every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mobility issues can be addressed by clearing hallways, removing area rugs, and installing handrails on interior and exterior steps. Walkers or wheelchairs may have a hard time maneuvering on pile carpet, so a low pile carpet or other flooring that provides a nonskid surface needs to be installed. Rounding sharp counter edges and reflective tape on steps will prevent injury.

The Bathroom

Many seniors are injured when they fall in the bathroom, but new products and innovative ideas are available to create a safe environment in the bath. For those who are not limited to a walker or wheel chair, some simple adjustments are to install 34 to 36 inch grab bars by the toilet, in the tub or shower stall, and remove throw rugs or secure them with double sided tape to prevent sliding. Replacing door knobs with L-shaped handles helps arthritic hands open doors.

The doorway to bath or bedroom needs to be widened to 34 inches for wheelchair accessibility. A walk-in or roll-in tub is a wonderful safety feature, and they are becoming widely available and more affordable. If a walk-in tub is too expensive, a simple shower seat and non-skid floor mat is helpful. Replacing the old toilet with a toilet that is 18 to 19 inches high, the height of a chair, is helpful.


Seniors need more lighting than young adults to compensate for poorer vision. Remove heavy, dark drapery in the home to allow more natural light to come in, and install easily-operated blinds to help direct daylight. Add extra lighting for hallways, stairs, and closets. Purchase clocks and telephones with large, well-lit numerals, and be sure there is good task lighting in the kitchen for cooking. Nightlights will help seniors navigate at night.

Lower Countertops

The height of counters in the kitchen and bath are problems for the wheelchair bound. Lowering countertops and sinks in both rooms will help a person care for themselves better, and allow them to stay in their own home. Lower cabinetry in the bathroom can provide extra storage space for medications or household items.

Other simple adjustments, such as lowering light switches, building an exterior ramp for easy accessibility, or raising electrical outlets will make a senior’s life much easier. Aging with dignity is everyone’s goal, and it is possible to help those we love do so by modifying the home they love.

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