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10 Ways to Upgrade Your Home for an Older Family Member

You want your home to be a place where every member of your family feels welcome, comfortable, and safe. As parents and loved ones age, you may need to make some changes around the house to keep them happy and healthy. Whether older family members are moving into your home, or you simply want to ensure safe, enjoyable visits, there are many simple updates you can make to ensure everyone’s comfort and security.

Limited mobility is one of the most common issues we face as we age. It’s important to focus on home safety tactics that also preserve independence. Keep your house safe and welcoming with these ten upgrades that put senior safety first.

1. Replace Dangerous Flooring

If your older family member has balance issues or drags their feet, high-pile carpet and slick surfaces like hardwood or tile can become hazards. If an older family member is moving into your home, consider making changes to risky flooring. Avoid trips, slips, and falls by replacing high-pile carpet with low pile, and review the slip rating of hardwood, tile, and laminate flooring to ensure that high-traffic areas are as safe as possible.

2. Secure Rugs

Secure area rugs with a non-slip pad or grip tape. StepNGrip’s NeverCurl Rug Gripper is an affordable solution that’s easy to install. In addition to keeping your rugs in place, this gel-based gripper keeps rug edges from curling and can be reactivated with water if you need to move the rug for cleaning. Users report that the gripping gel leaves no marks and even works for rugs placed over carpet.

3. Add a Shower Bench

A shower bench eliminates slipping risks and gives your older family member the independence to shower on their own or with limited assistance. Many benches stand on their own inside your shower or bathtub, but a transfer bench adds extra security as your loved one enters and exits the shower. Drive Medical’s Transfer Bench is reversible and sturdy—meaning it can accommodate any bathroom and support up to 400 pounds. Many users say it works best with a handheld shower, so consider adding the Aqua Elegante Handheld Showerhead to make bathing as safe and comfortable as possible.

4. Upgrade to a Walk-In Tub

Another bathroom safety option is to upgrade your current tub to a walk-in bathtub. This gives your older family member the safety and convenience they need to bathe on their own. The Ariel Walk-In Bathtub is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and comes with a safety grab bar and non-slip floor. Starting at just under $2,000, it’s also one of the most affordable options out there. If you want to pamper your houseguest as well as keep them safe, consider the Bath2Tile E-Series Dual Massage Walk-In Tub. This walk-in tub is also ADA compliant and features eighteen massaging jets to help soothe aching muscles.

5. Light Stairs Properly

Ideally, senior family members won’t have to tackle too many stairs. But if there’s no way to avoid it, make sure their treks up and down are as safe as possible. Provide adequate lighting on all staircases: you can add a lighted handrail or install lighting under each stair. Motion sensor lights by IdeaWorks are easy to install and won’t increase your power bill. A package of fifteen lights is less than $20, and they’re easy to mount to the wall along your staircase.

6. Make Climbing Stairs Easy

Adding extra grip to your stairs is another way to avoid stair-related falls. Add grip tape to non-carpeted stairs or non-slip tread mats that work on stairs with or without carpet. Do this to all staircases inside and outside your home. If your older family member is moving in and regular use of stairs is unavoidable, you might want to consider a stair-assist chair. Harmar’s stair lift has an adjustable seat and comes with a lifetime warranty on the motor and drivetrain.

7. Use Home Automation

Home automation provides comfort and safety. A smart thermostat can automatically adjust to keep your loved one warm and toasty, and automated lights can be remotely controlled, programmed to turn on and off at certain times of day, and even set up with motion sensors to make sure no one is left in the dark. If you’re new to home automation, consider starting with Philips Hue smart lightbulbs or the Nest Smart Thermostat. Both are compatible with a number of other smart devices and are affordable ways to start turning your house into a safer, smarter home.

8. Plug In a Security System

It might seem like overkill, but a security system can provide that extra level of comfort you and your older family member needs. Many advanced security systems let you check in remotely via a computer or smartphone so you can keep an eye on your loved one all day long. You can also program alerts to let you know if anyone unexpectedly leaves the house or yard—an especially useful feature if they have memory loss or are prone to wandering.

9. Install Grab Bars and Handrails

One of the easiest ways to increase home safety for seniors is with handrails and grab bars. Staircases, bathrooms, hallways, and even bedrooms can benefit from the addition of safety bars to help keep your loved one stable and secure as they move about the home. Moen makes an attractive, sturdy 36-inch grab bar that is ADA compliant and can withstand up to 500 pounds of pressure. This bar provides extra stability in the bath, shower, near the toilet, or anywhere else in the home. It also features SecureMount design, which ensures safe installation at any angle.

10. Affix a Bed Rail

A bed rail helps keep your older family members steady as they get in and out of bed. The Medline Bed Assist Bar fits snugly between the mattress and box spring, and it includes a pocket to hold books, magazines, or anything else your loved one needs close at hand. This bed assist bar also helps with changing sleep positions throughout the night. Whether it’s needed temporarily for help after surgery or permanently for long-term support, this is a simple, affordable solution for bedtime safety.

Keeping everyone safe and comfortable in your home is important—especially as family members get older. Make sure your older family members always feel welcome and secure by taking note of the support they need. Start by considering these simple home upgrades and adjustments to increase safety for the seniors in your life.

Rebecca Edwards

Find out more about Rebecca, here.

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