How to Prepare Your Home for an Elderly Relative

Posted by on Mar 23, 2016 in Real Estate | 0 comments


Grandma is moving in! But is your home safe for an elderly relative? Here are tips for transitioning your home to multigenerational living.

But is your home ready to support a senior family member as they age? Before move-in, make sure your home is prepared. Some small changes will reduce the risk of a dangerous fall or accident, and increase senior comfort in your home. You want all the fun of a sitcom without any of the drama.

Doors, stairs and walkways

  • Use nightlights. Nightlights prevent stubbed toes and falls in the dark. Install them in all hallways and bathrooms.
  • Clear clutter. Reduce your senior relative’s risk of falling by clearing the hallways in your home of anything on the floor. Remove or tape down loose electrical cords and throw rugs, and put away all toys and laundry.
  • Install lever handles on doors. Lever handles, as opposed to traditional round doorknobs, don’t require twisting the wrist to use. They are much easier to open for aging wrists. Bonus: With levers, you can open doors with your hands full.
  • Add railings next to stairs both inside and outside the home. Make sure they are correctly bolted to the wall so they can support a person’s entire body weight.

Lighting and room temperature

  • Add bright lighting. Older eyes need more light to see. Add bright lights in your senior relative’s closet, bedroom, kitchen and throughout your home.
  • Change to rocker switches. Rocker switches don’t need fine-motor control to operate, and can be pushed with an elbow if your hands are full.
  • Try smart lights. Whether they are triggered by motion or come on at pre-specified times, smart lights mean your senior relative has light to see without having to search for the light switch.
  • Install separate HVAC controls. Seniors tend to like their rooms warmer, while the rest of your family may not. Install separate heat and air conditioning controlsin your elderly relative’s bedroom or suite so they can set their own temperature.


  • Install support bars. The bathroom is a slippery place, and seniors can use these support bars, also called grab bars, to keep themselves from falling.
  • Add nonslip bath mats. Add a grip mat to the tub to reduce slipperiness and a bath rug right outside the tub or shower to absorb excess water. Make sure the mats are nonslip.
  • Make toilet paper easy to reach. Adjust the position of the toilet paper holder so that it doesn’t require twisting the body to reach it.
  • Get an adjustable toilet seat if your toilet is low. You can adjust the height so that it is easier to get on and off.


  • Reorganize cabinets and drawers. Ensure that your senior relatives can access everything they need without reaching or needing a stepstool.
  • Change to “D”-shaped handles and pulls on your cabinetry. They are easier to grasp than hardware of other shapes.
  • Install an induction stove. Traditional stoves get hot and pose a burn hazard. Reduce the risk with an induction stove that stays cool to the touch. Only your pots and pans made of stainless steel or cast iron will get hot, not the stovetop itself.
  • Add pull-down shelving. Simply pull down the handle and those top-shelf items are within easy reach. You get more storage space, and your senior relative will not have to ask for help to reach the paprika.

Keep your senior relative safe

Multigenerational living poses many challenges — don’t let your home be one of them. With a few simple modifications, your house will support your senior relative as they age. These changes will not only prevent accidents, but make your house easier and more comfortable to navigate.

Welcome your elderly relative to your newly accessible home, and leave the drama of a senior fall to the television stars.


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