Elderly safety home modification tips

Many senior Australians are staying comfortably at home for longer. Stay at home has many benefits, and helps older people to maintain their independence for longer. However, as the risks of falls and injury increase as a person ages, it’s important that homes are maintained to a satisfactory level.

Home modifications help ensure that home is a comfortable and safe place for seniors to live. Our guide to home modifications for the elderly covers a range of simple modifications that can help you remaining living at home.

Bedroom home modifications

Having a restful and comfortable nights sleep is one way to help achieve a good level of overall health and wellbeing. Poor sleep can lead to a range of problems, including poor concentration which in turn increase the risk of falls.

There are several great ideas for home modifications for the elderly that can be carried out in the bedroom. To begin with, consider the bed. Some beds come with levers or lifters to make sitting up in bed or getting in and out of bed much easier. Bed guard rails can be useful for older people who might be at risk of falling out of bed due to medical conditions or dementia.

Kitchen modifications

Easy access taps are great for people with arthritis, or who have limited mobility as a result of a stroke. These taps use a level style and don’t need to be grasped for turning.

Other gadgets in the kitchen can make cooking much easier for seniors. From easy-use peelers to jar openers, many household items can be reimagined to be suitable for older adults with mobility issues and difficulties.

Lowering the counter height is a fairly major modification but it is useful for seniors who enjoy cooking and wish to continue being able to work comfortably in the kitchen. Lowering bench heights means that people in wheelchairs can have ready access to food preparation surfaces. It is also a useful modification for people who experience back pain or dizziness when standing for too long.

Living room modifications

Good lighting can reduce the risk of falls in the main living areas, and light switches can be lowered for easy access. People with mobility issues should be encouraged to keep their living spaces clean and tidy. Trip hazards such as throw rugs should be removed and unnecessary furniture cleared out, sold or disposed of.

There are also many tools that can provide support for people with impaired vision. Modified computer and entertainment systems make emailing friends or finding a favourite program to watch much easier. Landline phone with large buttons make calling loved ones for a chat much easier.

Bathroom modifications and grab rails

Your bathroom can be a dangerous place. Slippery floors that have become wet will greatly increase the risk of falls. Bathrooms are commonly where incidents and most falls for older people occur at home. Simple additions like non-slip mats can make a big improvement on bathroom safety and prevent slips.

Many older people find baths to be problematic, and make the decision not to use them anymore. When the shower is situated over the bath, it can be very hard for an older person to safely step up and into the bath for their shower. Removing the traditional bathtub and installing a safe, walk-in shower is a common home modification process for bathroom facilities.

Shower head water temperature can be set to an predetermined level to reduce the risk of burns and scalds for seniors. This is another easy idea for modifications for the elderly that will improve safety and reduce risks.

Toilet modifications

Regardless of if toilets are in the main bathroom or located separately, these high-use facilities can also be adapted to be safer for older people. Installing a grab rail on the wall by the toilet can help a person safely hop on or off the loo.

Purchasing or hiring raised toilet seats can also reduce the effort required to stand up. Raised toilet seats also have sturdy handles for additional support.

Smart technologies

Innovative new assistive technologies can also be installed as home modifications to make life easier and safer. Automatic lights that switch on when you enter the room can ensure high visibility at all times. Automatic control lighting is also great for people with arthritis or physical disabilities that make flicking the light switches difficult.

Temperature and thermostat control is another activity that can be automated. Smart sensors can determine the room temperature and switch on or off to achieve a desired, comfortable temperature.

Installing monitors and smart doorbells at the front door can also make like easier for older people. If someone rings the bell, you do not have to rush or hurry to answer it in time. Simply use the video monitoring system to check who it is and the intercom to speak to them.

Safe staircases and steps

Staircases, stairwells and steps can also create risk for older people in their homes. Grab bars can be installed near interior steps or at the base of a stairwell, providing an extra support when going up or down. This can help prevent falls.

Another option is installing a stair lift. This is considered a more significant home modification, but prevents falls in this dangerous area of the home. A stair lift transfer a person between different levels of the home in a comfortable seated position.

Entering and exiting the home

Other home modifications can be made to the entry and exit points of the home. Many homes, especially older homes, have a set of stairs on entry or exit. External grab rails are a quick and easy safety adjustment. Door knobs can be replaced with lever handles.

Customised ramps, built to size, can make coming home much safer and provide easier access. An alternative but more expensive options is resetting exterior stairs so that each step is lower. This is particularly useful where steps are very high or steep, but this modification may require additional space to be available at the entry point.

Widening doorways is home modification that can help make access easier. Narrow doorways can be difficult to navigate, especially for the many seniors using a wheelchair or walking frame.

Outdoor safety

Modifications for the elderly don’t need to be inside the house only. External additions can improve safety too. Adding night lights or solar outdoor lighting can make coming home of an evening much safer. Affordable night lights can be purchased at many discount or hardware stores.

Raised garden beds are also a great home modification idea for the keen gardeners out there. Raised garden beds enable easy access to planting and tending to flowers and vegetables. No need to get down low to be able to continue enjoying nurturing those plants!

My Aged Care home modifications

Australian seniors may be eligible for financial support for home modifications through the My Aged Care scheme. My Aged Care advisors can provide advice on areas of concern regarding the safety of your home. Examples of other help at home services provided by My Aged Care include:

  • installation of easy access taps

  • installation of grab rails in the toilet, bath and/or shower

  • installation of a ramp

Major home modifications are not typically funded by My Aged Care.

Medical alert systems

Medical alert and alarm systems are another great example of clever modifications for the elderly. These systems can be of critical importance for people with medical concerns or reduced physical abilities. In the event of fall, injury, medial episode or sickness, emergency services or a family member can be contacted at the push of a button.

Assistive technology and home care packages

Home care package recipients who require home modifications should discuss these adaptations with their service provider. Home care packages are intended to help ensure seniors are living independently and as such, support is available for adaptive and assistive technologies.

How older people can stay safe at home

The benefits of home modifications include:

  • making difficult and time consuming tasks easier

  • reducing the risk of falls and slips

  • improving quality of life

  • providing solutions for mobility issues

  • enabling independent living

Nursed Care for safe and comfortable homes

Nursed Care is an approved aged care provider based in Paramatta and servicing the wider Sydney area. We can help you with many of the the tasks of daily living including:

  • Personal care

  • Medical support

  • Social and community participation

  • Transport

Affordable care services for seniors receiving support through the commonwealth home support program we help clients remain in their home homes with effective, responsive and quality service provision. We provide support to many seniors right across metro area.

Contact us if you would like more information about supporting an aging loved one. Our services can help improve quality of life and ensure your family member is living independently for as long as possible. Early intervention and support services can remove or delay the need to move to an aged care facility.

Related Questions

Home modifications are needed to make an older person’s home safer. Home modifications for the elderly include:

  • structural changes

  • installing equipment

  • purchasing smart technologies

Many modifications are cheap and easy to install but bring a great benefit to seniors.

In many cases, simple home modifications for seniors can be purchased and installed without referral. In other cases, an occupational therapist can provide guidance about how to make the home safe. Major modifications for the elderly may require installation by a licensed builder or tradesperson.

Support workers who have qualifications and experience deserve fair pay for providing quality services to an NDIS participant. Companies that are too cheap may not be paying their staff fairly or have all of the correct documents and statements of compliance.

Simple additions like adding grab bars do not require approval. Lifelong modifications such as adding or removing a second level to the home may require a development approval. Check with your local council or planning authority.

Need qualified care?

At Nursed, we offer a full range of care and disability support services, assisting you to live the life you want to live. Contact us today.

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Our friendly staff are eager to help you live your best life. Whether you need new accommodation, supports, home modifications or simply want to join our day programs we’ll ensure you’re looked after. 

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