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Easy fixes can make a home safer for seniors

As we age, even a house that has been a home for decades can become an obstacle course or pose unexpected problems.

AARP suggests these modifications for your home.


Night lights can be an important safety addition to a home, especially when older guests are present. (Dreamstime)

Night lights can be an important safety addition to a home, especially when older guests are present. (Dreamstime)

• Make sure lighting is adequate on exterior pathways, porches and doorways.

• Improve lighting on stairs, such as with night lights or installing overhead fixtures or wall sconces.

• Add lighting to closets.

• During the day, open curtains, shades and blinds for plenty of natural light.

• Consider placing automatic, light-sensor night lights in rooms and hallways.

• Install glow-in-the-dark light switches.

• Keep magnifying glasses handy throughout the house.

• Adequate kitchen lighting includes over the sink, stove and other work areas.

Moving around

• Place rolling casters on chairs.

• Consider touch-control devices for lights and electronics.

• Look into installing a walk-in or no-threshold shower and add a bath seat or bench plus an adjustable hand-held showerhead.

• Consider drawers designed to close automatically, and use adjustable and low rods and shelves in closets and cabinets. There also are pull-out or pull-down shelves.

Handy tips

• Lever-style door handles are easier to operate than round doorknobs.

• A chair or small table near your entrance door is a great place to put mail or purse while you lock or unlock the door.

• Larger rocker-style light switches are easier to use than traditional toggle-style switches.

For visitors

The National Association of Home Builders offers these suggestions if you have a senior temporarily in your house, such as a visiting older relative:

CLEAR PATHWAYS: Look for obstacles, and look for furniture that people usually have to maneuver around. Look for and move any electrical cords that might be in the path of your visitor. Keep stairs free of any objects and make sure the stair railings are secure.

LIGHT IT UP: Put night lights in dark spots that might affect your guest such as bathrooms, the guest room, nearby hallways and even the kitchen. Make sure there is a light source within easy reach of the bed.

DON’T SLIP UP: Make sure the guest’s shower has a non-slip floor, non-slip strips or a suction-attached non-slip mat. Beware of throw rugs, including bathroom mats.

THE RIGHT SEAT: Look for chairs and seating that will best suit your guest. A chair with arms provides something to grip while standing up or sitting down.

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