Discover essential tips and modifications to create a safe environment for senior loved ones at home. Learn how to prioritize their safety.
With more and more Americans opting to age at home, and a growing percentage of older adults making up the U.S. population, home safety for seniors is a booming market.1,2 There’s been a continuous development of technological tools and gadgets designed to keep seniors safe and connect them to outside services.
The amount of choice you have when it comes to preparing for elderly parents moving in or updating your parents’ home with these types of products can make it hard to gauge exactly what you require versus overspending on bells and whistles.
So, let’s start with the basics to ensure home safety for seniors.
We can’t drape family members in bubble wrap or prize physical safety above every other measure of quality of life. While it’s near the top of the list, creating a safe environment is about minimizing risks rather than providing absolute guarantees.
One of the ways to best understand this is by looking at the statistics on falls—in particular, preventable falls. In the senior population3:
Of the CDC’s top seven fall hazards for seniors, six are health-related. But one factor—home hazards—can be entirely eliminated with proper aging-in-place and fall prevention modifications.4
Another way to ensure safety is by updating your home to include elements similar to an assisted living facility. Consider:
Most home safety measures for elderly are fairly common across homes of all sizes, styles, and locations. Some of these may not be issues in a ground-up smart-home or universal design-build, but otherwise, look out for:
The structure, fittings, and objects around you—plus how you navigate and use them—are all variable. For this reason, some home modification changes cost much more than others. Like any renovation, there really isn’t a ceiling on how much you could spend.
To give you a better idea of the cost of caring for elderly parents, Americans spend an average of $9,500 to outfit a home for aging in place. However, you can accomplish a lot with some of the low- and no-cost home safety tips discussed below.5
Not every home modification for aging has to be a high-ticket item. There are many low-cost modifications you can consider, but let’s start with simply encouraging changes to senior practices and habits that will boost home safety. These can include:
If you’re starting with a split-entry home, stairs are definitely your first structural challenge. A top priority for home safety for seniors is eliminating the need to climb stairs or encounter steps, both inside and outside of the house. This can be done with:
If you’re not ready to commit to “flat-earth living” in your home yet, then consider:
Take a practice run through the house using a walker or wheelchair to help identify walkway issues. You may need to:
Starting from the ground up, evaluate all under-foot surfaces. You want to eliminate slick and slippery areas, anything that can move or catch on a shuffling foot, and uneven transitions between rooms or flooring types. Fixes may include:
The simplest movements and transitions become more challenging over time. Even if they’re not current problem areas, consider the following elements as you would a staircase handrail in your twenties—you don’t always use or need it, but it’s critical to have in place for when you do:
Just as hobbies like embroidery or woodworking may fall prey to arthritic hands and waning strength, navigating a home can pose challenges related to grasping, fine motor movement, and grip or weight-supporting muscles.
Modifications that can help with accessibility despite these challenges include:
When it comes to older vision, clarity and brightness can both suffer over time, so adequate lighting is essential. You can help reduce falls and frustration with:
Heat- and fire-related hazards are important to watch out for regardless of the age of a home’s occupants, but they’re particularly critical if memory or sensation issues are involved. Consider6:
Medical alert systems such as wearable devices have been around for decades, but today, there are more options than ever for utilizing smart devices and connecting technology to help older adults age at home safely.
It can be difficult to assess a familiar environment for safety—we all become used to the quirks, clutter, and workarounds we live with. Although you can certainly perform a room-by-room analysis with a checklist in hand, don’t hesitate to engage professionals if you need to. There are many options to make caring for aging parents easier, such as:
Not every modification is going to work for every home or person. Do your research, discuss, and work together to give new practices and devices a fair trial run. Add a note to the calendar to check in on how the latest change is working and decide whether more instructions, practice, or adaptations are needed.
Aging at home is a goal for many seniors, but it requires planning, changes to a home environment, and learning how to navigate these changes. Fortunately, Truehold can help.
Truehold's sale-leaseback combines a streamlined property sale with a lease and a guarantee that you can remain as long as you’d like as a renter in your home. And this can help in a few key ways. First, it frees up your home equity to help fund safety modifications, in-home assistance, and accessible retirement assets.
Second, with Truehold as a partner, you’ll no longer be responsible for property insurance, or the cost and effort of essential maintenance and repairs.
If you’re ready to find out more, visit us online or call (314) 353-9757. You’ll be contacted by a Truehold Advisor who can review the process and answer your questions to see if Truehold's Sale-Leaseback will benefit your financial picture and home safety goals.
1 AARP. Where We Live, Where We Age: Trends in Home and Community Preferences: 2021 Home and Community Preferences Survey: A National Survey of Adults Age 18-Plus. https://www.aarp.org/pri/topics/livable-communities/housing/2021-home-community-preferences/
2 Statistica. Share of old age population (65 years and older) in the total U.S. population from 1950 to 2050. https://www.statista.com/statistics/457822/share-of-old-age-population-in-the-total-us-population/
3 Lively. Falls in the elderly: statistics. https://www.lively.com/health-and-aging/elderly-falls-statistics/
4 CDC. Older Adult Fall Prevention: Facts About Falls. https://www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html
5 Fixr. How much does it cost a remodel to adapt a home for aging in place? https://www.fixr.com/costs/aging-in-place-remodeling
6 PubMed National Library of Medicine. Still too hot: examination of water temperature and water heater characteristics 24 years after manufacturers adopt voluntary temperature setting. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23514986/
7 Eldercare Locator. The Aging Network. https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/About/Aging_Network/Index.aspx
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