Aging In Place

8/15/2023 | By Sarah Caesar

Many older adults choose to move when they retire, often downsizing to a community that’s designed specifically for the needs of aging seniors. On the other hand, others prefer to stay in their homes, surrounded by memories and familiarity. A 2021 survey by AARP found that 75% of people over the age of 50 prefer this second option, aging in place, for as long as possible. Safety concerns of living alone while facing the challenges of aging can complicate this decision. However, thoughtful adaptations and home modifications for aging in place can address these concerns and add peace of mind, for older adults and their loved ones.

Challenges of aging can include mobility issues, visual impairments, dexterity challenges from arthritis and Parkinson’s, and increased risks of and from falls. Basic home modifications for aging in place address these challenges to help older adults maintain independence safely.

Home modifications for aging in place

Home modifications for aging in place can be as simple as removing tripping and slipping hazards like throw rugs. Others aids for accessibility require carpentry work, from simple to more complex.

An accessible bathroom, with chair in shower and grab bars. From Prasit Rodphan. For article on home modifications for aging in place.
  • Do a home hazard inventory to spot and remove tripping risks, such as throw rugs, raised door thresholds, dangling cords, etc.
  • Non-slip surfaces help prevent falls at high-risks areas such as the bathroom floor and shower and stairs and ramps.
  • Other bathroom adaptations include walk-in baths, no-threshold showers, and fold-out seats in the shower.
  • Handrails and grab bars should be installed around the home to provide support and stability, including in showers, near toilets, and on stairways. They enable a person to maintain balance or have something stable to grab in case of a fall.
  • Ramps can be easier to navigate than steps for people with mobility issues. Ramps work best on smaller staircases, such as exterior porches and decks.
  • Stairlifts installed on staircases allow seniors to move up and down easily.

Related: Home modifications for aging in place for people with Parkinson’s

Lighting adaptations

An older adult’s vision impairments, including cataracts, make adequate lighting crucial for older adults – especially if they face mobility issues, too. Proper lighting helps prevent falls.

  • Motion sensor lights respond to movement and automatically turn on when someone enters the room and turn off when the room is empty.
  • Touch-based lights enable a person to turn lights on easily, with simply a touch.
  • Voice-activated lighting systems can be turned on and off by request, such as when someone gets out of bed or moves from room to room. Philips Hue bulbs and lamps, for example, can be connected to Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant, for scheduling and voice- or smart device-activation.
  • Under bed lighting automatically turns on when people put their feet on the floor are helpful for elderly adults. This offers a better solution for nighttime than night lights, which interfere with a good night’s sleep

Related: Quick-fix modifications


Contemporary technological solutions can make aging at home safer than ever.

  • Medical alert systems, such as Medical Guardian and MobileHelp, are designed to help people who live alone call for help when they need it.
  • Personal alarms, small wearable devices, enable seniors to reach a close chosen contact or a monitoring team in an emergency.
  • GPS trackers allow loved ones to know where a person is.
  • Memory aids help a senior remember things both essential – like taking required medications – and enjoyable – like special occasions.
  • Home security systems make life at home safer: smart doorbells and locks, motion-activated lighting and cameras, smoke and fire alarms, and water overflow sensors, and more.
  • Communication aids include accessible mobile phones so that seniors can connect with their friends and loved ones.

Related: Learn more about in-home care options for yourself or a loved one

Sarah Caesar

Sarah Caesar is a contributing writer. She writes about the aging brain, mental health, healthy aging, and other topics. During her free time, she enjoys reading, going for long walks, and exploring new places.