Home Modifications for the Elderly: A Guide to Ageing Well

As you age, it becomes more important to consider which home modifications for the elderly and seniors will keep you safe and comfortable. Many older Australians are choosing to stay in their own homes as they retire, helping maintain independence for longer.

There are many different home modifications you can make, depending on your daily living needs and abilities, which will help you live a happy and stress free retirement.

In this article, we’ll discuss the top home modifications for the elderly, including automated solutions, simple but effective design changes and accessibility recommendations.

Bathroom modifications for the elderly

Bathroom guide rails home modification to assist elderly home owners.

Bathrooms can be tricky and dangerous places for seniors. Slippery floors and hard-to-reach places can lead to falls and injuries. Adding grab bars around the toilet and in the shower or bathtub can help make the bathroom a safer place.

Grab rails can provide support and stability when getting in and out of the shower or bath, and can also be used to help prevent falls.

If you have a bathroom that you find yourself using often, such as your bedroom ensuite, you may want to make some modifications to make it more accessible. Bathroom modifications such as a walk-in shower are an accessible option, as they reduce the risk of injury from trips or falls.

There are many other ways to make your bathroom facilities safer, including shower seats, raised toilet seats or simply adding non-slip mats and flooring to wet areas. Installation of a hand-held shower head can make it easier to control the water temperature and pressure.

Making these types of home modifications will not only make your bathroom safer, but they will also make it more comfortable and convenient to use.

Add ramps and handrails

If you have stairs in your home, you may find that navigating even a few small steps becomes more challenging over time. Stairs can be a hazard but one way you can help prevent falls is to add ramps to make it easier to get around the home.

Ramps can be added to entrances and throughout the home, to allow for wheelchair accessibility and walking aids. Other changes such as widening doorways and kitchen modifications like lowering bench heights, will also help to make your home wheelchair accessible.

Another home modification installation you may want to consider is handrails. Like grab rails, handrails can be placed on both sides of the staircase and can help provide support when going up and down the stairs.

Making home modifications for the elderly doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming – there are plenty of small changes you can make that will have a big impact. By making just a few simple modifications by adding ramps and handrails, you can help make your home more comfortable and safe for yourself or a loved one.

Upgrade to a lift or stair lift

Motorised chair lift installed in a home for senior occupants.

Downsizing to a home that’s more manageable for your lifestyle is talked about a lot these days. For some people, moving to an over 55’s community is a perfect fit. There are challenges that come with both, but whatever route you choose there are a few things to consider.

You might not have realised how many stairs are actually in your home. Up to the front door, in the backyard, or even just a few steps from the entryway to your living room. These small steps may not have been an issue in the past, but for seniors or those with a disability they can become a huge obstacle making even the smallest tasks difficult.

If you have the means, moving to a single-level home or a ground floor apartment with no stairs and lift access can be a fantastic way to downsize and solve these mobility issues.

If you have a home with stairs, one of the best home modifications you can make is a stair lift. They don’t require any structural changes to your home and can be installed to fit all stair types, including straight, curved and even outdoor stairs. Stairlifts can help people with mobility issues stay independent and safely navigate their homes.

Replace door knobs with lever handles

Door handle and sensor installed for elderly couple as a home modification.

One of the simplest home modifications for the elderly you can make is to replace all door knobs with lever handles. Although doorknobs are the most popular style for most homes in Australia, they can be difficult for people with arthritis or grip issues.

There is an argument that doorknobs are a safer choice, as you are much less likely to bump them or get your clothing snagged than with lever-style handles. On the other hand, lever handles are much easier to use. So depending on your individual circumstances, consider switching to handles as this is a low-cost modification that can make a big difference in the daily lives of seniors.

Seniors may also want to invest in automatic sliding or automatic swing doors, as they remove the need for doorknobs completely. Automatic door sensors and safety features to minimise the risk of accidents in doorways or strain from trying to open and close difficult doors.

Light switches

Another home modification that can be helpful for seniors is to replace traditional light switches with motion-sensor activated switches. These types of switches can be easier to use, and they can also help conserve energy.

If you have trouble reaching or seeing light switches, you may want to consider installing easy-to-reach light switches. There are a variety of options available, including switch plates that can be mounted lower on the wall or switch extensions for easier access to the switch.

Better lighting

One home modification that is often overlooked is adding additional lighting. Installing extra lighting in your home can be helpful for seniors who have difficulty seeing in low-light conditions.

Not only can good lighting help you see better, but it improves your ability to move around your home freely and avoid trips and falls.

There are many different types of lights that can be added, including motion-sensor lights, which turn on automatically when someone enters a room. Other simple home modifications for the elderly include adding night lights or leaving a lamp on if you need to get up during the night.

Try installing LED lights, which are more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Installing motion sensor lights outside of your home makes things easier to see when you’re coming and going, especially at night. It’s also a security investment to help protect your home when you’re out.

Floors, furniture and clutter

In the past 12 months, almost 1 in 3 older Australians have experienced a fall. As our bodies age, walking can become more difficult making us increasingly susceptible to falls. As part of the normal ageing process, you may experience changes that could potentially lead to a fall such as loss of balance, muscle mass or poorer eyesight.

As you get older, a fall can have much more serious consequences leading to broken bones, and hospitalisation. The fear of falling again can also have an impact on mental health due to a loss of confidence or mobility.

As most falls usually occur within the home, flooring is one of the most important considerations for seniors’ health and wellbeing. Uneven flooring, steps, carpets and rugs can be a major trip hazard no matter your age.

Removing trip hazards such as loose cords from the floor, unnecessary furniture, household items and general clutter can also help prevent slips and falls. Also, be mindful of wet or slippery surfaces, hardwood floors and spills that can make your home a dangerous place.

Many seniors may want to consider replacing old flooring with new, even surfaces such as vinyl or tiles.

Install an automatic door solution

Another home modification that can be helpful for seniors are automatic doors. Automatic doors can make it easier to enter and exit your home, especially if you have difficulty using a doorknob or use a wheelchair.

Automatic doors can open and close with the push of a button or keycard, providing easy access for people with mobility issues. Assistive technologies such as the installation of ability auto doors and automatic door entrances for people with disabilities is also an option for both homes and workplaces.

This can be especially helpful if you have difficulty using a doorknob or have a home with multiple entry points. Automatic doors help you to come and go as you please without having to worry about struggling with heavy doors.

Automatic sliding or swing doors can also be a great way to increase the security of your home. As they are touch-free, automatic doors are more hygienic and help to reduce the spread of germs and viruses.

Automatic doors are more energy-efficient as well, helping to reduce heating and air conditioning costs.

Assistive technology and home care packages

Smart home being controlled by a mobile app by seniors.

There is an amazing range of technology now available to make life easier and more independent for seniors. For older Australians who need some extra support around the house, a home care package can provide access to affordable care services.

From home automation systems that can control lighting, to doorbells that show who is at the door on a screen inside your home, there are many home modifications available.

Some home automation systems can even be controlled from your smartphone or tablet, so you can be in control no matter where you are. It is worth considering home automation devices, automated access doors, assistive technologies and home care as part of your home modification plan.

From apps and medical alert systems, home care packages and aged care home modifications, there is a lot of support available to help maintain your independence for longer.

Accessible home modifications with Go Doors

Creating a safe environment at home is critical to preserving your independence and quality of life. While it may seem like a daunting task, there are many home modifications for the elderly and seniors to make your home safer.

Many home accessibility and home modifications aren’t expensive or complicated. A few thoughtful changes can go a long way toward making a home senior-friendly.

Go Doors understands the importance of accessibility for older Australians. Go Doors is a family-owned company and Western Australia’s premier supplier of automated access solutions at the highest quality and the best service, at a genuine price.

If you’re interested in automated doors as part of your home modification plan, contact us for expert advice.

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