Improving Home Safety for Seniors

Discover essential tips and modifications to create a safe environment for senior loved ones at home. Learn how to improve their safety.

Retirement + Aging in Place
October 3, 2023
Improving Home Safety for Seniors

Updated Jan 31, 2024

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 Luckily for older individuals and their families, there’s been a continuous development of technological tools and gadgets designed to help keep them safe and connected to the outside world. 

With so many options out there to help prepare older parents to move in or assist in updating your parents’ home, it can be hard to decipher which products are necessary from those that offer expensive “nice to have” features that you may not need. 

So, let’s start with some basic recommendations on how to improve home safety for seniors. 

The Importance of Taking Home Safety Measures for Older Adults

We can’t ensure our loved ones are always safe and out of harm's way. However, what we can do is create a safe living environment that is designed to minimize the risk of injury while preserving our parents’ dignity.

One of the ways to best understand these injury risks is by looking at the statistics on falls –– in particular, preventable falls. In the senior population3

  • 60 percent of falls occur inside the home
  • Most falls occur in the living room and bedroom –– only 13 percent in the bathroom
  • Falling once doubles your chances of a repeat incident

Of the CDC’s top seven fall hazards for seniors, six are health-related. But one factor –– home hazards –– can be reduced with proper aging-in-place and fall prevention modifications.4 By understanding the most common types of falls and how they occur, you can better design a space that’s safe for your parent now and as they continue to age.

Another way to incorporate safety measures is by updating your home to include elements similar to those found in an assisted living facility. Adopting universal design principles –– making elements like faucets, cabinets, handles, and other frequently used touchpoints accessible to a broad spectrum of users –– can limit the need for further accommodations while reducing the risk of injury. But there are other ways to bring assisted living convenience and safety to the home. Consider: 

  • Methods such as call buttons or a medical alert system to call for help in emergencies
  • Installing grab bars and railings to reduce fall risk 
  • Family caregiver involvement, such as medication management

Identifying Common Safety Hazards

Most home safety measures for elderly adults are fairly common across homes of all sizes, styles, and locations. Some of these may not be issues in a smart home complete with integrated devices for improved accessibility or a universal design–oriented build, but otherwise, look out for: 

  • Unlevel surfaces, such as stairs, steps, and room thresholds
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Arrangements that require reaching too high or low to complete a task or retrieve items
  • Medication delays, misses, or improper doses
  • Fire hazards related to forgetfulness or lack of sensation, like electric blankets or space heaters
  • Illness related to inadequate food safety attention, like salmonella or cross-contamination from unclean cooking surfaces

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Home Modifications for Senior Safety

The layout, fixtures, and items in our surroundings, as well as how we interact with and utilize them, can vary significantly as we age. As a result, certain adjustments to your home may come with a higher price tag than others. Similar to any home improvement project, there's no fixed limit on the potential expenditure, making it important to consider the unique aspects of each modification while keeping in mind the possibility of varying costs.

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

Behavior Modifications

Not every home modification for aging has to be a high-ticket item. While there are many low-cost modifications to consider, let’s start with simply encouraging certain practices and habits that will boost home safety. These can include:

  • Communicating about what causes discomfort, anxiety, or pain around the house
  • Wearing supportive shoes, fitted slippers, or appliqued socks with nonslip soles
  • Avoiding wearing long sleeves or loose clothing while cooking
  • Using prescribed or recommended mobility devices consistently
  • Learning device controls and keeping instructions for use nearby as a reminder
  • Encouraging seniors to ask for –– and accept –– help

Single-Level Living

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: 

  • A switch to ground-floor-only living
  • Adding ramps to entrances
  • Installing chair lifts along staircases
  • Building an elevator

If you’re not ready to commit to single-level living in your home yet, then consider: 

  • Adding banisters to both sides of any staircases 
  • Installing support bars or posts to help with rail-less steps
  • Minimizing staircase use by moving key rooms or furnishings downstairs


Take a practice run through the house using a walker or wheelchair to help identify walkway issues. You may need to: 

  • Rearrange and remove some furniture, especially large, low pieces like ottomans 
  • Remove decorative objects and clutter on floor and table surfaces
  • Ensure coats, boots, and hats have a safe place to be stored away
  • Widen doorways or hallways
  • Install a roll-in shower space or bathtub cutout
  • Widen outside walkways


Begin by thoroughly assessing all the surfaces beneath your feet. Aim to remove any slippery spots or items that might shift or snag on shuffling feet, and ensure smooth transitions between different rooms or flooring types. Possible solutions may require:

  • Applying an anti-slip coating to tile or laminate flooring
  • Adding non-slip decals, mats, or resurfacing to tub and shower floors
  • Removing or taping down area rugs
  • Flattening door sills and ensuring seamless room and flooring transitions

Supporting Movement

As time goes by, even the simplest movements and transitions can become a bit more challenging. Think of these elements like a staircase handrail in your twenties –– you may not always use or need it, but having it in place is crucial for those moments when you do:

  • Shower and bathtub support rails and grab bars
  • Higher, or comfort-height toilets and toilet handrails to ease the process of sitting and standing
  • Lift chairs with electronics to help a sitter easily rise to standing
  • Bed risers and rails, and a firm mattress
  • Designated, convenient spots to place canes and other mobility devices 

Supporting Access

Aging is a part of life, and you may not have the same strength or fine motor skills as you did when you were in your 20s. If lifting heavy boxes or bending over for kitchen appliances is getting harder for you or an aging parent, consider adjusting your living space to make daily tasks easier.

Modifications that can help with accessibility include: 

  • Installing levers instead of doorknobs
  • Adding an automatic flush feature to toilets
  • Replacing drawer and cabinet knobs with large handles
  • Providing under-counter and handheld jar, can, and bottle openers
  • Keeping frequently used kitchen appliances on countertop slider trays
  • Lowering and installing pull-down kitchen cabinets
  • Increasing countertop heights used for standing tasks
  • Installing shallow sinks
  • Ensuring space for shower chairs and adding handheld showerheads

Boosting Visibility

When it comes to your vision, clarity and brightness can both diminish over time, so adequate lighting is essential. You can help reduce falls and frustration with: 

  • Additional light installations, both overhead and task
  • Brighter lightbulbs
  • Large-print clocks, appliances, and calendars
  • Light-sensing nightlights in bathrooms, bedrooms, and hallways
  • Voice- or movement-activated lighting
  • High-contrast design to highlight changes in surfaces, levels, or objects

Avoiding Burns and Fire

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

  • Limiting water heater temperature to 120° to avoid scalding
  • Investing in smoke alarms that include strobe lights or bed/pillow shakers
  • Installing a smooth, induction stovetop with light-up heating elements 
  • Installing motion-sensing stove shut-off devices
  • Purchasing an in-hood extinguisher to contain stovetop fires
  • Using high-heat limiting burner covers

Technology Solutions for Safety

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. 

These include: 

  • Voice-activated virtual assistants such as the Amazon Echo and Google Nest
  • Wearable devices
  • Smart home monitors that detect falls, breaking glass, and other disturbances, sending external alerts to emergency numbers
  • Smart appliances that monitor food safety and inventory
  • Apps and devices that provide medication monitoring and reminders
  • Audio and video systems that allow external monitoring and communication
  • Home security apps and devices that connect to family, caregivers, and 911

Engage Professional Help to Plan a Safer Home

It can be difficult to assess a familiar environment for safety –– we all become used to the quirks, clutter, and workarounds we’ve grown to 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: 

  • Your Area Agencies on Aging, which coordinate and offer services to help older adults age in their homes7
  • A gerontologist for general advice and referrals for in-home evaluations
  • A Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) occupational therapist
  • Your county Veterans’ Benefits services if your loved one qualifies

Evaluate and Adjust

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. 

How a Sale-Leaseback Can Help 

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 support this process.

Truehold's sale-leaseback combines a streamlined property sale with a lease and a guarantee that you can remain as a renter in your home as you’d like. 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.
  2. Statistica. Share of old age population (65 years and older) in the total U.S. population from 1950 to 2050.
  3. Lively. Falls in the elderly: statistics.
  4. CDC. Older Adult Fall Prevention: Facts About Falls.
  5. Fixr. How much does it cost a remodel to adapt a home for aging in place?
  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.
  7. Eldercare Locator. The Aging Network.
Róisín Goebelbecker headshot
Written by
Róisín Goebelbecker
Brand Lead at Truehold
Róisín Goebelbecker leverages her background in social impact storytelling, community engagement, and social services to elevate residents’ stories and advocate for the dignity and agency of older adults.
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Truehold's blog is committed to delivering timely and pertinent insights in real estate and finance, purely for educational and informational purposes. Crafted by experts, our content is thoroughly reviewed to guarantee its accuracy and dependability. Although designed to enlighten and engage, our articles are not intended as financial advice and should not be the sole basis for financial decisions. Our stringent editorial practices ensure the integrity of our content, empowering our readers with valuable knowledge.

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