Grab bars and shower seats in bathrooms
Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows approximately 80% of all bathroom injuries were caused by falls. For adults 65 and over, falls frequently lead to serious injuries.
Installing grab bars in bathrooms can allow for easy mobility in the bathroom. A grab bar can help you get out of the tub or shower without worrying about falling. Slippery surfaces in the bathroom can create a recipe for disaster. However, with a grab bar or railing in the bathroom, you can have much more stability.
Another way to reduce falls in the bathroom is by installing a shower seat. A study published in the peer-reviewed journal the Laryngoscope found that 1 in every 5 older adults faces issues with balance. Shower seats allow for a comfortable resting place and offer stability, according to AssistedLiving.org. That way, older adults do not have to stand while showering.
Aging-friendly kitchen appliances allow for fewer accidents to occur while cooking. You may want to consider changing out your appliances for safer options.
Starting with the heart of every home, making sure you have an accessible fridge is important. According to AssistedLiving.org fridges that have long handles and are easy to open are a good option for older adults. You also may want to look for fridges in which the freezer is also accessible. Some fridges have a bottom compartment for the freezer that requires you to bend down to reach. This may not be an accessible option for all older adults. Additionally, you would want fridges that have good internal lighting, and that have slide-out shelves so you can see and reach all of the items in your fridge.
Tips For Families advises considering having a stove with a higher height, where you won’t have to bend down as far while cooking. Having an electric cooktop instead of gas decreases the chance of items or food in your kitchen catching on fire. According to older adult and caregiver resource website Kapok, stoves with features like a timer to turn off the heat, or with automatic controls, will make sure that your stove isn’t running when it is not supposed to.
Microwaves are safer than stoves and ovens. Microwaves that are aging-friendly should have several features, according to the blog Microwave Ninja. They include simple controls like knobs, large and easy-to-read displays, a handle that can be pulled to open — unless a button to push is easier for you — and a loud alarm that can alert you when your food is ready. According to Safer Senior Care, senior-friendly microwaves can cost anywhere between $70 and $130.
According to RenoFi, if your doorways are currently less than 32 inches, expanding them will make room for wheelchairs in your house. While you can widen a doorway yourself, it is recommended that you hire a contractor to do it for you. Materials to widen doorways can cost anywhere between $300 to $800 and upwards of $2,500 when hiring a contractor, according to Consumer Affairs.
No-step entries are wheelchair accessible, and decrease the risk of tripping over step entrances. According to the Journal of Light Construction, they aren’t difficult to build either, and typically cost around $800 to $1,500. Having no-step entries allow for easy movement going in and out of your house.
Windows and lighting
As we age, the lenses around our eyes become less flexible, which leads to adults in their 40s and 50s needing reading classes, according to UCI Health. Having good lighting around your house makes sure you can navigate your home freely and clearly.
SFGate reported light curtains or light window coverings can make it easier to see, which allows the most amount of natural light to enter your house. Install under-cabinet lighting, replace lower-wattage bulbs with higher wattages and have nightlights around the house so you can navigate your home when it’s dark.
All of these renovations can add up. However, there are some grant options you could look into to lower the cost of renovating your house. Check with your city or county government for services available to help seniors.
Nonprofits such as Rebuilding Together work to help older adults remodel homes and add modifications to make their living spaces safer.