Designing an age-friendly home

Designing an age-friendly home

What makes a house safer and more comfortable for the older people who live there? Designing an age-friendly home is also connected to universal design. But there are also specific things that will help with lower strength, senses and more.

Living spaces

  • Keep walkways and rooms obstacle-free. Too many pieces of furniture can crowd a space, and make it difficult to move around them.
  • Keep rooms clean and clutter free to avoid falls and confusion.
  • Ensure the house is always well-lit.
  • Expand doorways to make them easier to move through.
  • Pad furniture corners to avoid injuries.
  • Change doorknobs to levers or larger doorknobs that are easier to hold and turn.


  • Install motion sensor lighting that can automatically turn on.
  • Replace uneven walkways or broken paths.
  • Add a sturdy table next to the door for bags, keys and other items. This keeps both hands free with no other burdens while opening doors.

Preventing falls

  • Install rails and grab bars on walls and near stairs to help with movement.
  • Use non-slip floors and rugs.
  • If the elderly person’s room is upstairs, move it downstairs for a lower risk of falls while climbing stairs.
  • An elderly person may not have as much energy as they used to. Put chairs in corners or along walking routes for safe places to sit.


  • Install a shower bench or a non-slip, waterproof stool/chair so the elderly can bathe while sitting down.
  • Use a hand-held shower head instead of a fixed one
  • Consider getting higher toilet bowls that reduce stress while sitting down and standing up
  • Install easy-to-use temperature controls


  • Store knives and sharp tools safely.
  • Invest in appliances that automatically switch off to avoid electrical accidents and fires
  • Add chairs for the elderly to cook while sitting down
  • Check frequently for spoiled or expired food that might make the elderly sick more easily than younger members of the house.

For wheelchairs

  • Lower light switches to make them accessible at wheelchair height
  • Consider sliding doors on a track instead of hinged doors
  • Install wheelchair lifts for stairs, if needed

Sight and visibility

  • Reading is a key part of keeping the mind active. Invest in proper reading glasses or magnifying glasses for older readers, or switch to audiobooks.
  • Stick stickers on glass doors to make them visible
  • Paint the bottom step on every staircase to distinguish it from the floor

Alzheimer’s, senility and illness

  • To avoid confusion, don’t make big changes to the house. Make changes little by little.
  • Remove locks on doors to prevent people getting locked in or locked out of rooms.
  • anchor high shelves and tall furniture to the walls
  • For Alzheimer’s patients who wander, install audio monitors and sensor alarms to alert others in the household when they try to leave the house.
  • Use pill organisers to sort and store medicine, and remind users when to take their medication.
  • Add childproof locks to cabinets
  • Keep dangerous items stored safely away from the usual spaces of Alzheimer’s sufferers.


An age-friendly home helps people age comfortably and safely in the places where they have always lived. Speak to professionals like your doctors, physical therapists, or occupational therapists to decide what kinds of changes will make the best impact for the elderly.


4 Lakes Handyman (2017) 21 Steps for Age-Proofing Your Home [Accessed: 21 August 2019] Available at: 

AARP (2019) Creating A Safe Place for Your Loved One With Dementia [Accessed: 21 August 2019] Available at:

AARP (2017) Make Your Home Safe for Your Aging Parent [Accessed: 21 August 2019] Available at: 

Always There Home Care (2017) Senior proofing your seniors home [Accessed: 21 August 2019] Available at:

Good Housekeeping (2016) 9 Ways to Adult-Proof Your House — And Maintain Your Sanity [Accessed: 21 August 2019] Available at: 

Mary F.K. (2015) How to Age-Proof Your Remodeling [Accessed: 21 August 2019] Available at: 

Dr. Nor Hazlin T. (2017) Safe Environment for the Elderly [Accessed: 21 August 2019] Available at: 

Pamela O. (2017) How To Age-Proof Your Home [Accessed: 21 August 2019] Available at: 

Sam F. (2019) 11 Ways to Age-Proof Your Bathroom [Accessed: 21 August 2019] Available at: