14 DIY Projects for Aging in Place
For older adults, the ability to stay in their own homes as they age is paramount. Successfully aging in place, however, requires careful planning for security and safety issues that may otherwise impact their ability to remain at home. We've rounded up 14 DIY projects that can make aging in place a reality.
Making smart additions to the kitchen, such as automatic faucets or water-temperature regulators to prevent scalding, can boost the safety of meal prep and cleanup. Here are some other smart products that can make life easier while aging in place.
High-pile carpet and uneven floors are trip hazards for those wishing to age in place. While carpet is soft and warm underfoot, loose-looped or shag carpet can be dangerous. A low-pile alternative will make it safer, especially in low-light conditions. Here’s our definitive guide on how to choose carpet.
Filters for Cleaner Air
Allergens abound in a house and can exacerbate existing health problems. Choose a high-quality air filter and change it often to keep irritants at bay. Here are the best furnace filters to buy to retain airflow and filter out the most particles.
Add Lever-Style Handles
Round door handles can be difficult to turn especially for those with arthritis or stiff joints. Replace all door knobs with lever-style handles to make getting in and out a cinch.
Add Safety Lighting
A big part of aging in place is determining how to prevent slips, trips and falls at home. One smart idea is to place lighting at knee height and below to illuminate stairways and hallways.
Converting traditional light switches to a rocker-plate is an easy DIY project that can make everyday living easier for those aging in place. Some models even contain a lighted panel to help you find the switch at night. For more options in an older home, here is a wireless light switch option that lets you control devices from anywhere in the room.
Photo: Courtesy of Lutron
A smart home security system does more than deter burglars; it can keep you safe and summon help when you need it. A wifi security system, like one of these, is a valuable tool to allow older adults the freedom of aging in place while having peace of mind that everything is as it should be. Aiming security cameras at knee height allows plenty of privacy for homeowners while allowing loved ones to determine whether a fall has taken place and summon help—even if they live far away.
Photo: Courtesy of Nest video
Small knobs, like those commonly found on kitchen cabinets, can be hard to grasp when dexterity is an issue. Update and replace knobs with cabinet pulls in a “D” shape to allow the most clearance for fingers to grasp. Here’s a guide on how to perfectly install cabinet hardware.
Shower Safety Upgrades
Stepping in and out of the bathtub can be a slip hazard for older adults, so converting a typical bathtub-shower combo to a more accessible design with seating and a lower lip is beneficial. Here’s a great design that is functional and attractive.
If widening doorways isn’t an option, offset hinges, like these shown, allow a door to swing clear of the opening and add 2 in. of clearance. Here is a list of more permanent ways to make your home more accessible if the need or budget allows.
The addition of bed rails allows older adults who are still mobile to keep the comforts of their existing bed while providing safety and convenience. Additionally, adding a simple rod and shelf closet organizer is a must to keep items organized and prevent injury due to falling items.
Photo: Courtesy of Walmart
Motion Sensor Lighting
With this guide to choosing and installing motion sensor lighting, older adults will be able to navigate outside pathways safely—even with their arms full.
Install a Garage Door Opener
An automatic garage door opener is a real arm-saver and can help prevent back strains, injury and falls. This guide to installing a garage door opener makes this a DIY project when helping someone age in place.