How to Age-Proof Your Home

Improving home safety is one of the most important factors to successfully age in the right place. Surprisingly, less than 10% of the country’s homes are equipped to adequately accommodate the needs of older adults, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. What does an aging-friendly residence look like? Step-free entryways, a first-floor bedroom and bathroom and features and home modifications aimed to improve safety and accessibility. From simple, affordable changes to advanced alterations and remodels, there are dozens of ways to age-proof your home and ensure better health outcomes and a higher quality of life for years to come.

Preventing Falls

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fall injuries cause 3 million ER visits and 32,000 deaths among older adults each year. Adjust your home to prevent falls by:

  • Removing throw rugs
  • Installing handrails throughout the home
  • Adding grab bars and textured, nonslip strips to a shower or bathtub
  • Securing loose carpeting
  • Applying nonslip wax to ceramic tile, wood, concrete, marble or granite flooring
  • Placing antislip treads on stairs and slick surfaces indoors and outside
  • Installing proper lighting, such as rope lights, motion sensor lights or glow-in-the-dark tape, in hallways and on stairs

Decluttering & Reorganizing

Further avoid potential falls by decluttering and reorganizing spaces to increase safety and more easily accommodate daily needs. Accomplish this by:

  • Keeping hallways and stairways clean and free of boxes, shoes, pet toys and other trip hazards
  • Avoiding the use of extension cords and securing necessary cords out of the way
  • Making sure storage spaces are easily accessible. Consider moving items from under a bed to closets with shelving units or dressers with glide-out drawers.
  • Reducing the amount of furniture in each room, leaving enough space for wide pathways and easy navigation
  • Removing unnecessary items from countertops, cabinets and shelves to make room for every items that should be easily accessible

Making Modifications

A variety of adjustments large and small can be made to help you maneuver through your home with ease, such as:

  • Replacing standard door knobs with lever handles
  • Swapping a standard toilet for a raised or high-profile toilet
  • Securing shelves and bookcases to the wall and bases of lamps to the floor
  • Installing a walk-in shower with a bench and handheld showerhead
  • Adding pullout boards that lock in place in the kitchen
  • Making doorways 36 inches wide (instead of the standard 32 inches) to accommodate a wheelchair or walker
  • Creating zero-step entryways, which don’t require stairs and feature gentle slopes and minimal thresholds
  • Moving light switches to 42 inches off of the floor — a comfortable height for most adults and those who use a wheelchair
  • Installing faucets to the right or left of the sink rather than behind it
  • Replacing tile or standard carpeting with commercial-grade carpet that is no more than 3/8 inches thick

Furniture & Appliances

Now’s the time to truly focus on yourself and make life as easy as possible. One way to do this is by choosing furniture and appliances that work best for your needs and reduce the risk of hazards and accidents. Some suggestions include:

  • Standard chairs instead of caster chairs, which increase the potential for falls
  • Narrow and shallow seats, which are generally better for older adults, especially those who have bad knees or difficulty rising out of a seated position
  • Recliners, but choose microfiber instead of vinyl, which can be slippery
  • Beds that measure 17 to 23 inches from the floor to the top of the mattress
  • Padded bases and upholstered headboards
  • Tables with rounded edges (avoid glass-top tables)
  • Frontload washers and dryers
  • Waist-height ovens
  • Top-rack only dishwashers

Smart Home Upgrades

Advancements in technology, particularly when it comes to smart home appliances, has made aging in place easier and safer than ever before. Smart Hubs, such as Amazon Echo or Google Nest, are home automation systems that connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. These hubs allow you to control a variety of compatible devices through voice command or an app on your smartphone. From lighting and video doorbells to security cameras, thermostats, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and smart speakers, smart devices help older adults address a variety of safety and security concerns and perform daily activities hands-free, including:

  • Setting medication reminders
  • Making grocery lists
  • Setting and adjusting thermostat temperatures
  • Turning lights and TVs on and off and setting automatic timers
  • Making phone calls (including 911 in cases of falls or other emergencies)
  • Locking and unlocking doors

Smart stoves and ovens also offer several features that can improve the safety of older adults and prevent cooking-related fires. Many have timers, which can be set to automatically turn off after a certain period of not being used, as well as gas sensors. Activity monitors can alert caregivers when a stove is left on and unattended, and allow the person to access and shut off the device remotely. The circumstances of people’s living environments influence their health outcomes.

Upside Offers Safe, Accessible and Hassle-Free Living

At Upside, our mission is to elevate the quality of life for older adults. We accomplish that by selecting, curating and hand-picking apartments that have undergone extensive quality assurance and strict criteria for accessibility, geography and safety. Beyond that, we create an all-inclusive experience filled with amenities those who are 55+ need and desire, such as independence, flexibility, streamlined services and maintenance-free living. Meet with an Upside Manager today to start your path to aging in the right place.

Upside Corporate Headquarters

6365 NW 6TH Way, Suite 200

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309