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Small home modifications to help the elderly and infirm

As an adult ages their needs change, but often their home environment does not, turning what was once perfectly functional into a daily challenge.  Home modification and adaptation is essential for the ongoing comfort of an elderly relative who prefers the independence of living in their own home.

help the elderly

Photo courtesy of TheJRB(CC ShareALike)

Home Access

First and foremost, having adequate access to your own home is a must.  If a relative struggles getting up their front steps, consider adding a handrail to help support their weight, or removing the steps in place of a ramp to allow easier access to their front door.

When Visitors Arrive

If your relative is still able to answer the door, then a wireless doorbell is a good idea if they don’t already have one.  They can take it with them to the kitchen or whichever room they are in, and this is particularly helpful if they are hard of hearing.  If they can no longer answer the door then a keysafe outside the house offers both security and convenient access for visitors.

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Moving Around the Home

Moving around the home can be risky business for the elderly, so make sure that trip hazards are minimised, wires are tidied away and that hallways are adequately lit. Remote control lights can be really useful, as can sensor lights which will come on when your relative enters the room to prevent fumbling for switches.


A second handrail can help to provide additional support when going up and down the stairs, and if their mobility doesn’t allow them to climb the stairs by themselves then a stair lift is a lifeline for moving between floors of their home.

Getting Up

Getting out of a chair or bed can be difficult in later life, and so “raisers” can be fitted to beds and chairs to increase their height and make it easier to get up off them.  You can also get electric recliner chairs which alter their position to allow your relative to get up easily.

Bathroom Business

Electric bath lifts can make it easier to get in and out of the bath, and some baths have a door built in so that there is no need to climb in and out.  If your relative is concerned about forgetting a running tap then safety plugs only allow the water to reach a certain level.

In the Kitchen

A stool can be a useful prop in the kitchen, for those that tire when preparing food.  You can also buy a whole range of useful tools, such as spike-boards for one handed peeling, high-rimmed plates, kettle tippers, non-slip mats and tap turners.  Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors are also essential.

Whilst it would be nearly impossible to make a home completely accident proof, making a few smart modifications can help elderly relatives stay in their own home for longer and live independently.  It’s important that your relative is on board with the modifications and that they don’t take offence!  If you think someone that you know is in need of a bit of extra help at home, approach the subject carefully and explain the benefits before launching into a complete overhaul!

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