Senior Living Resources Lutheran Senior Services

36 Low-Cost, Home Safety Modifications & Fixes

Most older adults enjoy their independence – and would not want to lose it because of home safety issues. That is why you want to be aware of home safety, and more importantly, the modifications and fixes that can make your home even safer.

Falls are the top reason older adults lose some or all of their independence, according to research from the National Council on Aging. What is more, falls due to hazards in the home cost older adults billions of dollars each year, not to mention the time lost living the life they love.

But there are many ways to eliminate hazards and make home safety modifications or fixes that are budget friendly.

“Many home modifications are inexpensive. Examples of typically low-cost modifications include replacing cabinet knobs with pull bars, installing grab bars in the bathroom, adding nightlights, increasing bulb wattage, and getting rubber grips for faucets,” wrote Attorney Kathleen Michon in a post on the NOLO blog. “And some changes are free — such as removing throw rugs that pose a slipping hazard and regulating water temperature to avoid scalding.”

Start by Decluttering

The first key is to get rid of clutter throughout the house. You want more space in each room in your home, so you have clear paths to walk without bumping or tripping. Pass along unnecessary furniture, knickknacks, books, clothes, and piles of stuff to family members, sell them in a consignment shop or even an online auction, gift them through a local group like Buy Nothing, or pass them along to a donation center in your community.

From there, let us look at inexpensive safety modifications room-by-room and space-by-space. You might be able to make some of these modifications or fixes on your own, but if you do not feel comfortable or require professional help, ask a family member, or contact a community referral service to help find and recommend trusted contractors.

Ideas for the Bathroom

Bathrooms are an area of concern and can be a significant risk for falls and accidents in the home. To increase safety:

  • Adjust the water heater to 120°F or a bit lower to avoid any chance of scalding
  • Install comfort-height toilets or, at even less expense, toilet seat risers
  • Install wall-mounted (not suction-mounted) grab bars in bathtubs, showers and within reach of toilets
  • Use rubber-backed rugs or adhere double-sided tape to other rugs
  • Add nonskid mats to bathtub and/or shower floors
  • When possible, install a hand-held or adjustable showerhead and permanent or removable seat
  • When possible, install easy-to-use lever handles, rather than knobs or turn handles, for sinks, tubs, and showers
  • Unplug electrical appliances when not in use, and never use them near a sink or tub full of water

Ideas for the Kitchen

You do not need to do a complete kitchen overhaul to make it safer and more accessible for aging in place. These fixes help:

  • Get help to install easy-to-grasp D-shaped pulls and handles, rather than knobs, on cabinets and drawers
  • Install pull-out shelving beneath lower counters and Lazy Susans in corners — and keep your most-used items in those spots
  • Add extra light — or stronger bulbs — near the sink, stove, and work areas
  • Install lever, touch- or sensor-style faucets, rather than turn-style knobs
  • Opt for a stove or cooktop with controls near the front of the device that are easy to see and adjust

Ideas for Bedrooms and Living Rooms

Older adults spend plenty of time in areas meant for relaxation — living rooms and bedrooms. Make sure they are safe with these modifications:

  • Arrange furniture so it is easy to navigate and there is ample room to walk – get help if you need it when moving things around
  • Place the bed in a way you have easier access to the bathroom
  • Ensure electrical and phone cords are placed along the wall and out of the way
  • Secure large area rugs to the floor with double-sided tape, and avoid placing throw rugs anywhere
  • Install lights in interior closets and adjust items to lower rods and shelves

Ideas for Stairways and Hallways

Fall hazards are often abound — and overlooked — in stairways and hallways. Prevent them with these modifications:

  • Install handrails on both sides of stairs at the appropriate height (just about waist high)
  • Ensure stairway lights can be turned on and off at the bottom and top of stairs
  • Add automatic night-lights to outlets near steps and staircases
  • Install exterior and interior treads or adhesive strips
  • Regularly check there are no loose or weak treads or stairs or raised nails, or for outside steps, loose bricks, or cracked concrete, and
  • For carpeted steps, try to install tightly placed, low-profile carpet with thin padding and no pattern

Ideas for Entrance Areas

  • Add a chair, bench, or table near the entrance door to place packages while unlocking or locking the door
  • Install exterior lighting at all entrances, including motion-sensor lights at the exterior spots
  • Add timers to lights near entrances so they go on at dusk and turn off at dawn
  • Install a secure slide latch or chain inside so you can speak to anyone outside without fully releasing the door
  • Add lever-style handle instead of doorknobs

Ideas for other Functional Areas

To improve safety throughout the house, try to:

  • Install automatic plug-in night lights throughout the house
  • Add telephones near bathrooms and the bedroom where falls are most likely to happen or make sure you carry your mobile phone with you around the house
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and make sure they can be heard throughout the home
  • Install rocker panel light switchers, which are easier to use than toggle light switches
  • Keep flashlights handy throughout the home
  • Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and your flashlights, when you change clocks twice a year

Creating and maintaining a safe home — or The Lifelong Home, as AARP calls it — doesn’t have to cost a fortune and it will give you peace of mind and body.

Lutheran Senior Services offers a full range of life planned at home services for aging adults:

  • Information and Referral
  • Care Management
  • Private Home Care
  • Home Health Care
  • Hospice Care
  • Palliative Care
  • PACE


Call Aging Answers for more information at 314.446.2475.

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