5 Ways to Build Universal Access Into Your Existing Home

by Ben SanfordDecember 25, 2017

How to Make Your Home More Accessible for Elderly Loved Ones

It is not uncommon for an elderly parent to move in with their adult child once their health or disability reaches a certain point. But, odds are the adult child’s home wasn’t built with a senior’s needs in mind. This means that certain adjustments will have to be made to make the home more universally accessible.

Here are five ways you can incorporate universal access designs into your existing home so your elderly loved one can be more comfortable.
universal access for elderly in your home

Automate the Home’s Lighting

Smart home technology allows you to control your home’s lighting by using a remote control or smartphone app. This can be a lifesaver for a senior because automated lighting systems mean that they won’t be forced to walk around in the dark, looking for the light switches when you’re either sleeping or away from home.

Your loved one can turn on the lights before entering the room and turn them off when leaving through the use of a simple remote.

Replace Your Tub With a Curbless Shower

It can be a challenge for an older person to step over the edge of a bathtub. In fact, it can even be a falling hazard. Therefore, you should replace one of the tubs in your home with a curbless shower. This will allow your loved one to walk right into the shower safely and unimpeded.

Add Shower Heads to Your Shower

Seniors can have difficulty when showering in a standard shower because of the direction the water sprays. But, by adding a second shower head, such as one on the ceiling of your shower, your loved one will find it much easier to shower. Adding a third head, this one a hand-held wand shower head, will provide your loved one with even greater flexibility in meeting their showering needs.
universal access for elderly in your home

Make Your Home Wheelchair Friendly

If entering your home is only attainable by walking up a few steps and your loved one relies on a wheelchair to get around, then you need to take measures to make life easier for them. From having a ramp installed outside to keeping your hallways clear and creating wider throughways in the kitchen and living areas, you will enable your loved one to get in and around your home much easier in their wheelchair.

Install Supports Where Needed to Create Universal Access

Seniors need more support than their adult children. So, you should take into account the parts of your home where some extra support might be necessary. Common areas for hand-held supports include the bathroom (especially the shower and toilet) and the bedroom, for getting out of bed.
universal access for elderly in your home

Just a Starting Point

Keep in mind that the above measures are simply a start for making your home more accessible for an elderly or disabled family member. Other things to consider include replacing your faucets with ones easier to operate for those with arthritis, installing towel hooks close to the shower, and adding other sources of natural light, like skylights.

Take the time to make your home more accessible for your loved one. Your loved one will greatly appreciate it and don’t forget, you may eventually need these conveniences one day as well in the (hopefully not too near) future.

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About The Author
Ben Sanford
Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.