Ways to Make a Home More Accessible for the Elderly

As we age, our needs and abilities inevitably change. Many things that were once simple may become more difficult, and parts of a home can become dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Seniors may find the very homes they’ve spent their lives in posing severe challenges to their safety, from stairs to narrow hallways and narrow doorways, and even their bathrooms. These challenges may lead to seniors considering other accommodation options, but such extreme measures may not be necessary. In fact, some simple modifications could be just the solution they need!

In this article, we’ll go through some alterations that could be made to a home to make it more accessible and safer, allowing seniors who want to age in place to keep living independently for longer. 

The Stairs

Replace stairs with ramps

The easiest and most straightforward option? Get rid of the stairs altogether by replacing them with ramps. Often used on steps leading up to a house, however, this option will only really be possible for short staircases or very shallow stairs. If you’re considering installing a ramp, make sure it doesn’t affect any other users’ accessibility and that a solid handrail is fitted alongside it for support. 

A ramp not an option? 

Have a stairlift installed 

Struggling to get up and down the stairs? Worried about falling, slipping or tripping? Stairs can become a particularly perilous part of your house, and falls on the stairs can lead to severe injuries. If they’re starting to become a problem, it’s worth taking action sooner rather than later, and the most convenient adaptation you could make is a stairlift

Whether you have a straight or a curved, wide or narrow, steep or shallow staircase, a tailor-made stairlift can be installed to meet your needs and match your home décor, eliminating the danger and preventing an accident from happening. So rather than walking up and down, allow your stairlift to glide you up the stairs safely and comfortably, giving you the independence you need to get around your entire home.

Install a wheelchair lift

Wheelchair user? 

We can’t say it enough – stairs are a hazard, and they make life especially hard for those with reduced mobility. However, wheelchair users often have the most difficulty manoeuvring them, which is why a wheelchair lift – made up of a motorised platform – is so essential for their independence. The problem becomes clear when you have an entire flight of stairs, but what some people don’t realise is that a wheelchair lift could make all the difference if installed on steps outside your house. Have stairs going up to a deck, patio or even your front door? That’s where a lift could mean the difference between being trapped and independence. 


Add handrails throughout your home

Sometimes a little support could make all the difference between keeping upright and a fall. Loss of balance is a symptom of ageing, so when you’re feeling unsure on your feet, some well-placed grab bars are the perfect thing to provide more stability. Other uses? Helping you get in and out of bed, into the bath, off the sofa or into and out of your favourite chair. Increasing independence, they also give you peace of mind that something will always be there to support you whenever you reach out your hand.

Add handrails around the toilet

For those prone to low mobility, poor balance, prone to falls, or just simply need some assistance with getting in and out of the bed or even bathroom areas, handrails will make a huge difference to an elderly person. They increase independence and will give peace of mind to the homeowner.

Add handrails around the toilet

For those with mobility issues, lowering yourself onto and off the toilet can become a struggle. Placing handrails around the toilet gives users more support and somewhere to hold on to. Looking for even more stability? We’d suggest looking into a safety frame that provides all-around support as you manoeuvre onto and off the toilet.   

The Bathroom

Speaking of the toilet, the bathroom should be a major focus when it comes to making a home more accessible. Some well-placed bathroom upgrades and tweaks could mean the difference between safety and a fall, so the more preventative measures you take, the better. Here are some initial modifications to consider:   

  • Adding slip-resistant flooring/ mats throughout the shower and bathroom.  
  • Adding vertical, u shaped or angled handrails around the bathroom.
  • Adding a folding seat into the shower – some come with a padded seat and back for extra comfort.  
  • Swapping the toilet out for a raised toilet or adding a raised toilet seat so that you don’t have as far to go to sit down.
  • Adding a walk-in shower or bath to avoid having to lift your leg over the side. 

Around the Home

Carrying out a home assessment is the first step to making your home more accessible, and just this walk-around could help you pinpoint the major problem areas. Bad lighting? Trip hazards? Unwound cables? They’re all problems with easy fixes that could bring you peace of mind in the long run. Not sure what you’re looking for? Get in touch with an Occupational Therapist to have your home assessment carried out by a trained professional.