Aging In Place

10/11/2023 | By Yvette C. Hammett

Most older people want to stay in their homes as they age, but to do so requires a lot more than desire. The home needs to be safe and accessible to avoid accidents and easy to move around in and to enter and exit. Older adults may know renovations are necessary, but they chronically put off projects until crunch time.

“Sometimes there is a sudden reason, like a fall or stroke or other health conditions. Then all of a sudden you are in a crisis and trying to modify the home,” says Amy Goyer, a family caregiving expert for AARP. “It is so much better to do it in a preventive way.”

There are specialists across the country trained in renovating homes for aging in place. They can do simple jobs, such as adding grab bars and removing thresholds, for $1,500-$5,000, or completely renovate homes or construct additions for a cost of up to $300,000, says Alan Archuleta, CEO of Archuleta Builders in Morristown, New Jersey.

“Typically, in New Jersey, what happens is we get phone calls from children that have aging parents who want a quick renovation because their parents are coming out of the hospital or at a point where their home is not safe. Most times the reason they can afford to do it is because their house is paid for, and the option of long-term care is so much more expensive,” Archuleta says.

The most common renovations people should make include adding grab bars in bathrooms to avoid falls and having a zero-threshold shower entry.

Being able to safely enter and exit the home is another need. “You can build a ramp that doesn’t look like a ramp,” Goyer says.

AARP has designed a “Checklist for Aging in Place,” available at

It recommends starting small by raising toilet heights, so you don’t have to bend down so far, and moving things to lower shelves, so you don’t need a stepladder.

woman being chair-lifted up her stairs  which is one of the common aging in place renovations.

Make sure lighting is good in areas such as the kitchen to avoid slipping on spilled liquid. Add lights in the hallways and stairwells.

Also, ensure that the bed is easy to get in and out of. Use risers, if needed. Add drawers or slide-out trays to existing cabinets for easy access. Use chairs with armrests, which make it easier to stand or sit. Remove electric cords from walking paths. Get rid of slippery throw rugs.

Technology can also help. This includes sensors for lighting, medication reminders, wearable devices such as pedometers to ensure someone is moving enough, and social media to stay connected to the outside world. There are also automatic shut-offs for stoves, sensored flooring to detect a fall, and voice commands so someone can call a neighbor or the police for help.

Find experts on renovations for aging in place through the National Association of Homebuilders, which has a directory of Certified Aging in Place experts at

Yvette C. Hammett is a contributing writer at Kiplinger Retirement Report. For more on this and similar money topics, visit

©2023 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

More articles on aging in place on Seniors Guide:

Simple Tech Solutions for Aging in Place

Need more help at home? Check out Seniors Guide resources for In-Home Care

Yvette C. Hammett