Whether you own or rent your home, there are many no-cost or low-cost improvements you can make to greatly increase its comfort and safety. Discover how simple updates can make it easier for you to stay comfortable, independent, and injury-free. Begin with this checklist of things you can do quickly and easily for little to no cost.
• Open blinds and curtains and raise shades during daylight hours to increase natural light inside the home.
• Place exposed electrical, telephone, and computer cords along a wall where people won’t trip over them.
• Remove all cords from under furniture or carpeting to lessen the risk of fire.
• Remove clutter from stairways and passageways to help prevent trips and falls.
• Set the hot-water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce energy costs and prevent scalding.
• Remove all scatter and throw rugs that can cause falls.
• Place the items you frequently use in an easily accessible place.
• Check the carpeting on your stairs to be sure it is firmly attached.
• Arrange furniture to allow for easy passage.
• Create an emergency exit plan in case of a fire.
• Remove debris from outdoor walkways.
• Trim shrubbery to provide a clear view from doors and windows.
Low-Cost Home Improvements (With Products Costing Under $35)
The products mentioned below can be purchased at your local hardware or home-improvement store.
• Increase light by using the highest-watt light bulbs or compact-fluorescent bulbs appropriate for your light fixtures or lamps.
• Put nightlights in the bathroom and in hallways leading from the bedroom to the bathroom.
• Use a rubber-suction bath mat or antislip floor strips or decals in the tub or shower.
• Place self-stick carpet mesh or double-sided carpet tape under large area rugs to prevent them from sliding.
• Replace knobs on cabinets and drawers with easy-to-grip D-shaped handles.
• Replace traditional light switches with easy-to-use, rocker-style light switches.
• Place or mount an A-B-C rated, all-purpose fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location near the stove and oven so that you’re prepared for any type of kitchen fire.
• Install smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors on all levels of the house, especially where the bedrooms are.
Home Improvements (With Products Costing Under $75)
Most of the products mentioned here can be purchased at your local hardware or home-improvement store.
• Install a handrail on both sides of any staircase so you can stay steady on your feet.*
• Install easy-to-grip lever door handles on all doors instead of doorknobs.
• Install a handheld adjustable showerhead for easier bathing.
• Install user-friendly lever handle faucets in your sinks and in tubs or showers. Some faucets even include built-in antiscald protection.
• Place a sturdy bathtub or shower seat in the tub and/or shower for comfort and safety.
• Mount grab bars next to the toilet and bathtub and in the shower for help getting up or down.*
• Install offset hinges on all doors to add two inches of width for wheelchair access, if needed.*
• Install a security peephole on exterior doors at a height that’s right for you, so you can identify the person wanting to enter.*
• Install photosensitive porch or entryway lighting that will come on at dusk and turn off at dawn. A light-switch timer can also be installed on interior switches for exterior porch or post lights.*
• Install outdoor floodlights that switch on by motion sensors, to light your way and to deter burglars.*
*These items may best be installed by a professional.
“The Home Fit Guide” is available online and includes information and tips to keep your home in top form for comfort and safety. Visit aarp.org/housing for this publication and more. AARP Create The GoodSM encourages everyone to make a difference in the lives of others. Share your experiences with “Home Safety Tips & Tools,” and find other ways to help in your community at CreateTheGood.org.