Renovation & Design

How to make your home senior-friendly

Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

Handrails and sitting stools are small additions to a shower that can make a bathroom all the more safe for seniors.

As we age, even a house that has been a home for decades can become an obstacle course or pose unexpected problems.

The American Association of Retired Persons suggests these modifications for your home:


• Make sure lighting is adequate on exterior pathways, porches and doorways.

• Improve lighting on stairs, such as with night lights or installing overhead fixtures or wall sconces.

• Add lighting to closets.

• Use halogen bulbs to reduce glare.

• Full-spectrum bulbs better simulate daylight.

• During the day, open curtains, shades and blinds for plenty of natural light.

• Consider placing automatic, light-sensor night lights in rooms and hallways.

• Install glow-in-the-dark light switches.

• Keep magnifying glasses handy throughout the house wherever you might need one, such as in the kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom.

• Adequate kitchen lighting includes lighting over the sink, stove and other work areas. As well, you should make sure you can easily see the stove’s controls.

Reaching out, moving about

• Place rolling casters on chairs.

• Consider touch-control devices for lights and electronics.

• Look into installing a walk-in or no-threshold shower and add a bath seat or bench, plus an adjustable hand-held shower head.

• Consider drawers designed to close automatically, and use adjustable low rods and shelves in closets and cabinets.

There also are pull-out or pull-down shelves.

Handy tips

• Lever-style door handles are easier to operate than round doorknobs.

• A chair or small table near your entrance door is a great place to put packages, mail or your purse while you lock or unlock the door.

• Those larger rocker-style light switches are easier to use than traditional toggle-style switches.

Temporary solutions

The National Association of Home Builders offers these suggestions if you have a senior temporarily in your house, such as a visiting older relative:

Clear pathways: Look for obstacles and furniture that people usually have to manoeuvre around. Look for and move any electrical cords that might be in the way. If you find some, consider taping them to a wall. Keep stairs free of any objects and make sure the stair railings are secure.

Light it up: Put night lights in dark spots that might affect your guest, such as bathrooms, the guest room, nearby hallways and even the kitchen. Make sure there is a light source within easy reach of the bed. Your visitor also needs well-lit outdoor walkways.

Don’t slip up: Make sure the guest’s shower has a non-slip floor, non-slip strips or a non-slip suction bath mat.

— Tribune Media


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