Home adaptations for the elderly can make a big impact on quality of life. There’s plenty of science out there showing us that remaining in your own home for longer is better for mental health.

But for those who want to remain at home, getting around the house can be extremely challenging, and this can be a blocker to staying put. Thankfully, some steps can be taken to make a home more accessible. 

Adaptations range from minor DIY-able tasks like adding sensor lights to stairs to major projects that require professional construction.

We look at the top 3 home adaptations for the elderly that can enable them to live at home and enjoy their own spaces for longer. 

Major Home Adaptations For The Elderly

Adapting a home for elderly people with limited mobility can range from minor alterations, such as fitting handrails and half steps, to more complex and costly changes. 

Major home adaptations aren’t your average DIY job – they require significant building work to execute. Some even need planning permission before you can start making the changes.

Here are three major home adaptations for the elderly that improve accessibility around the house.

1 – Stair Lift

An elderly person may find stairs too difficult, and this means potentially being confined to just the ground floor of their property. 

This isn’t a problem in a bungalow, but consider the types of rooms typically found on a second floor… Not being able to use the stairs often means not being able to use the bathroom, or get into bed at night. 

The answer? Installing a stair lift. It can truly be a lifeline.

What Is A Stair Lift?

This first home adaptation for the elderly is a mechanical device that takes its user up and down the stairs along a rail. Depending on the width of the staircase, this rail can be fitted to the wall or the stair treads.

There is usually no need for a power source because stair lifts use powerful batteries that last a long time.

Benefits Of A Stair Lift

Stair lifts are truly brilliant home adaptations. For the elderly, and other people living with limited mobility, stair lifts enable users to access the upstairs floors of their homes. 

Not only does this enhance independence in the home and put bathrooms and bedrooms back in reach, but it also eliminates the risk of falls when trying to use the stairs.

2 – Level Access Showers And Wetrooms

The twisting and reaching of trying to wash is challenging for most elderly people, but climbing in and out of a bath or stepping into a shower tray can be extremely dangerous. 

What Is A Level Access Shower?

A level access shower has no tray or steps and is completely level with the bathroom floor. This means that people who might struggle to step into a standard shower, like the elderly, don’t have to navigate any change in level when accessing the shower itself. 

These specialist showers are also more spacious, providing room for relatives and carers to assist with washing if necessary. 

What Is A Wetroom?

Installing a wet room is one of the more major home adaptations. For the elderly, a fully adapted bathroom can offer a far more practical solution to easier washing and personal hygiene, and a wet room is exactly that. 

The floor of a wet room is made from non-slip, waterproof material and tilted ever so slightly towards a drain outlet, and the shower is level and completely open to the room.

Benefits Of Accessible Showers And Wet Rooms

Fast, safe drainage for both provides much less risk of slipping, as well as a heavily reduced risk of tripping with no bath or tray to step into. Level access showers and wet rooms both provide ample space for assistance, with wet rooms transforming the whole room into a shower.

And, of course, they both enhance independence for their users. Without this access to adequate washing facilities, elderly people may otherwise be unable to stay at home. 


3 – Wider Doorways

Standard doorways in the UK can’t easily accommodate walking aids, and they certainly can’t fit a wheelchair. Widening doorways to make getting around the house easier is one of the most common major home adaptations. For the elderly, widening doorways can enable them to stay at home for longer. 

What Are Wider Doorways?

Wider doorways are at least 32 inches rather than the standard 30 inches, meaning wheelchair and walking aid users can easily fit through. 

To widen doorways, brickwork needs to be removed, edged properly and the decor re-touched to match the rest of the rooms. You can widen both internal and external doors. 

Benefits Of Wider Doorways

By widening doorways, you prevent accidents and quickly improve independence. With wider doorways, you will also enable light to bounce around more freely, creating the illusion of more space. 


Minor Home Adaptations For The Elderly

We’ve covered 3 major home adaptations that can transform the lives of elderly people living at home.

Minor home adaptations are smaller changes that take little time to do and are low-cost. In the official regulations, a minor home adaptation costs £1,000 or less, and so can usually be covered by your local council. (Read more about funding for adaptations here).

Grab Rails

Grab rails are short, sturdy rails that can be placed around the home so someone can hold on while maneuvering in more challenging circumstances. Whilst they can be placed anywhere, making them versatile and easily installed according to the particular struggles an individual might face, grab rails are typically found:

  • By the front door, both internally and externally. Here, the rails provide support whilst the user closes or opens the door to enter or exit the home or answer the door. 
  • Next to toilets and sinks. When using a basin you might be standing for a while and need to hold on to a grab rail for support. Next to the toilet, grab rails provide leverage for help getting down to and up from the seat. 
  • Near the bath or shower. Twisting and turning on the way in or out of a bath or shower can be difficult movements to execute concerning balance and mobility. A grab rail might also be installed inside the shower area for extra help during washing.
  • In the kitchen. Kitchen activities often involve plenty of standing, so grab rails can be crucial in easy-to-reach spots in this area of the home.

Shower Seat

If a standard shower cubicle or over-bath shower isn’t too challenging to get into, you may want to add a shower seat.

Shower seats enable the user to rest whilst bathing, reducing the fatigue of standing for prolonged periods. A seated position is much safer for an elderly person to remain in whilst washing, and it also means they can more easily use the shower controls.

Lever Taps

Traditional cross-head handle taps or ‘universal’ taps can be hard for elderly individuals to turn because they require a high level of dexterity. Accessible, lever-handle mixer taps are much easier for users to manipulate, providing higher levels of independence in the bathroom and kitchen.

The ease with which lever taps can be used also significantly lowers the risk of accidental scalding. 

Home Adaptations For The Elderly Provide Independence And Comfort 

When you’re making home adaptations for the elderly, there are plenty of changes to consider.

If money is no object, going the whole hog for a fully adapted home can be incredibly empowering for elderly users. But in reality, the changes we’ve explored today should be among the first to consider when you’re looking at home adaptations. The adaptations we’ve covered above are the most significant.

If you’d like expert help in working out where to start with making home adaptations for the elderly, get in touch with our professional, friendly team today.