DIY home projects for older adults

By Michele McGovern
April 5th, 2021 Health & Wellness No Comments

After many months of staying safe at home, you probably noticed some work could be done around the house! So now’s the time for DIY home projects.

Don’t be fooled – or scared – by the word “projects.” There are plenty of achievable and worthwhile tasks that will improve your quality of life while aging in place.

Even better, we have some you can do that will improve the safety of your home. And we have some that will improve the quality of your surroundings. And whatever you choose to do should be enjoyable and rewarding.

Here are several DIY home projects (that’s Do It Yourself) ideas for around the house that will make your home safer. After all, Home is your Haven, and you want it safe for you and anyone who visits.

Remember: if any project involves something you aren’t immediately comfortable doing or you’ve never done before, talk to a trusted family member about getting help to finish the job.

Add (or replace) air filters

To keep in-home air clear, and avoid exacerbating existing lung and heart issues, change air filters regularly. Make good, clean airflow a DIY home project to help with breathing and comfort.

Check the manufacturer instructions on your heating and cooling units and order online or purchase filters locally to improve airflow and get rid of unwanted particles.

Install lever-style door handles

From entrances and exits for your home to doors between rooms, lever style door handles are safer and easier for older adults to use. Round door handles, which have been the mainstay for decades, can be difficult to grip and turn – especially if you have arthritis or stiff joints.

With a few basic house tools, and a socially distanced, masked trip to the local hardware store, you can complete this DIY project in a weekend.

Add more safety lights

You don’t have to do much more than order – or purchase from a local retailer – additional safety lights with adhesive backs to make it safer to walk throughout your house every day.

To prevent slips, trips and falls, experts recommend adding lighting at knee height and below throughout the house. Grab several lights and adhere them to stairwells (every few steps), in small closets and under cabinets to see more and stay safe.

Include more wide pools

It won’t take much more than a drill, a measure, new screws and some patience to add more wide pulls – rather than knobs – throughout your kitchen and bathrooms. As you age, dexterity diminishes, and wide pulls (anchored at two ends) are easier to grasp.

Update with pulls in the “D” shape on high-use and hard-to-reach areas for a DIY home project. Make sure there’s plenty of depth for your fingers to grasp before you install.

Add bedrails

Can you imagine – or maybe you’ve experienced – how awful a fall from bed in the middle of the night could be? It’s not just a worry for toddlers. You can avoid the safety hazard with this DIY project: Install bed rails.

No matter the size – or occupancy rate – of your bed, you can purchase bed rails at any national retailer. While you’re at it one weekend – and at the store getting your rails – you might want to add some closet organizers. They’ll help you keep items organized. If you clear out items you don’t need or want, you can organize properly. Then you can hopefully avoid injuries due to ill-placed items.

Install security system

Consider installing a smart home security system to deter burglars, ensure rapid response for falls and create peace of mind.

You can find a reliable security system online or through local franchises. Once you decide on a system, your DIY home project is to aim security cameras at knee height. That allows privacy. Plus, loved ones or security monitors can see if you’ve fallen and need help.

Raise the seat

In this case, we’re talking about raising the toilet seat. You can work with a contractor, friend or family member to replace toilets in your home with “comfort-height toilets.” They’re about 18 inches from the floor to seat, making them as easy to get in and out of as a standard kitchen chair. That’s about three inches higher than a standard toilet seat.

For a full DIY project, you might just add a toilet seat riser to your existing toilets. Or you can install a toilet safety frame that flanks both sides of the toilet and allows you to grab the frame to sit or stand.

Add grab bars

Another DIY project in the restroom: Install grab bars near the toilet and bath or shower. Some older adults even install them near their beds for easier in and out.

No matter where you decide to put grab bars, install them into wall studs rather than sheetrock for more stability and reliability.

Brighten up your signage

This DIY project is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Improve the signage around your home in case emergency responders ever come. Make it easier for them to find you.

Replace worn house numbers and/or mailboxes with larger numbers that can be seen in the dark.

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