Low-Cost Options for Aging in Place

Many seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. Of course your ability to do this hinges on many factors, including the nature of the challenges you face in your current home. Major home renovations may be required, but there are also numerous inexpensive steps you can take to improve your living situation.

Safety Improvements:

  • Flooring: carpeting is preferable to area rugs because it reduces tripping hazards and can cushion falls. But if area rugs are used, make sure they’re secured to the floor.
  • Handrails: on stairways, add a second handrail along the opposite wall for improved stability.
  • Footwear: to prevent falls, non-slip shoes are preferable to slippers of socks.
  • Non-skid safety strips:adhered to the floor of a tub/shower, non-skid strips are preferable to removable in-shower bath mats.
  • Bathroom grab bars: ideally these should be anchored into the wall, but if that’s not possible opt for a safety rail clamped onto the side of the tub.
  • Quality step ladder: purchase a broad-based heavy-duty step ladder with a hand-hold bar across the top to safely reach items stored out of reach.
  • Lighting: whether it’s making a bathtub brighter or installing motion-activated night lights in the hallway, better lighting can help prevent falls and make hobbies, reading, etc. more enjoyable. Lighting improvements might be as simple as changing the bulbs (to higher wattages or to bulbs that mimic daylight instead of “yellow” soft lighting) or adding battery-operated units.

Convenience Factors:

  • Hand shower: convert a standard fixed shower head into a hand-held system with flexible hose.
  • Raised toilet seats: no need to buy a new toilet when a removable seat can be added to most standard toilets.
  • Mail catcher: mail delivered via a slot in the door may be easier to retrieve from a mail box, especially if a narrow basket is mounted below the door opening so the recipient doesn’t have to pick up mail off the floor.
  • Knobs: replace round door and/or faucet knobs with lever styles, which are easier to turn. likewise, loop pulls can make drawers easier to open.
  • Eating: specially-designed cups and eating utensils can minimize food spills, including weighted options that help counterbalance shake-prone hands.
  • Cooking utensils: lightweight and ergonomically-designed options are readily available now, many offering non-slip handles and bright, attractive colors.
  • Keep things handy: move often-used items to easy-to-access locations.
  • Eliminate excess “stuff”: having fewer items to store, sort, juggle, and handle can make aging in place an easier and more enjoyable proposition.

Lynn Mattecheck is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®) with RE/MAX. You can count on her to guide you through the process of buying or selling your home. (503) 495-3258.

The Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®) designation is awarded by the SRES® Council, a subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). To learn more about SRES® and access various consumer resources, please visit SRES.org

Aging in Place

Stay Put (Age in Place) or Head Out?

The following article was contributed by Claudia Rumwell of Senior Care Organizer. The Senior Care Organizer is a winning combination of resource material, care giving information and organizational insights.

It’s not to say we shouldn’t think about the future. We need to because we don’t know what our needs will be when we’re in our 70’s or 80’s. We may be fairly healthy at the moment, but we also know that things can change. If you’re caring for your parents right now, you’ve already learned that. If, like me, your parents have already gone on to Heaven, you could be thinking about what your own future may be like with respect to care needs. Do I stay put? (“Age in Place”) OR do I move?

This article is to discuss “staying put.” And if that choice is made, there are definitely ways to make our home safe and more senior-friendly, as we move through our ‘day to day” activities. In fact if needed, these ideas can also apply to our aging parents as well. It’s not to say that everyone can “age in place” for the rest of their lives; but certainly whatever time we add to staying in our own homes is a ‘plus’ in so many ways.

Several years ago, I remember going through our parents’ home and making several safety-based changes to allow them to safely “stay put” longer. Now, however, there is a profession that specializes in helping people stay safely in their homes. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) will come in and review your home room by room, ask questions about your conditions and habits, provide an evaluation report and go over it with you. Most will recommend providers who can do the work for you, but basically, you will make the choice of who the contractor will be. For you in the Portland area, I recently met a Certified Aging in Place Specialist.

So, to get you started, the following ideas are offered from The Senior Care Organizer, along with The Complete Eldercare Planner (chapter 10), by Joy Loverde.

General safety

  • Replace door knobs with door handles. [Arthritic hands make it difficult to turn a knob].
  • Remove throw rugs and any clutter on the floors to reduce/prevent falls
  • Be sure there is easy access to doorways and windows
  • Make sure the front door has a “peephole” for checking on who is at the door
  • Make electrical outlets accessible. Check that appliance and electric cords are safe to use.
  • Install nightlights in the bathrooms, hallway, kitchen.
  • Make sure any stairs are non-slippery, well lit, and have a handrail.
  • Check that smoke detectors are present and in working condition. Consider having a carbon monoxide detector.


  • Check outdoor steps. There should be a handrail. Determine if steps are difficult to maneuver. Consider placing a ramp for accessibility.
  • Employ a family member or other individual to mow the lawn, weed, etc.when it becomes more difficult to take care of the yard to reduce the possibility of injury.
  • Secure windows so as not to allow easy entrance for intruders.Consider adding motion sensor lighting.

It’s a fact… we’re all going to be older and our lives will change in various ways. Many of us will be able to stay in our homes late into our senior years, but some will not. However for the time being, we can make a concerted effort to prepare our home to be as safe as possible for us to live in.