Discussing making changes to the home

There are many ways to improve home safety, from clearing pathways to installing grab bars.

When you're discussing possible changes to the home with the older adult, focus on how changes can make home life easier and safer. Keep in mind:

  • The older adult will have to live with any changes. If it's something they don't like, they might not use it.

  • There are often different ways to deal with hazards. Ask the older adult what works best for them.

  • What something looks like is important, too. Ask what the older adult thinks. Look for devices and equipment designed for home use, rather than institutional use.

  • Often, items around the home have sentimental value. Ask what the older adult wants to keep where it is, what can be put in a "memory box," and what you can take pictures of before removing.

When discussing possible home changes with the older adult, you might want to:

  • Connect changes to something the older adult said or did: "You said you have trouble reaching those high bathroom shelves. What do you think about adding more convenient storage space?"

  • Explain why you think changes are a good idea: "I think it's important to add lights around the bathroom, because I know it can be tough to find at night, especially if you're half-asleep!"

  • Ask if there are alternatives the older adult prefers: "What would make bathing easier for you - a shower stool, grab bars or something else?"

  • Ask what friends or family members have done: "How does Millie handle her stairs? I know she has some trouble getting around."

  • Look at options or try out changes: "Do you want to look at different lever door handles?"