THE BLOG
09/06/2013 04:48 pm ET Updated Nov 06, 2013

Helping Aging Parents Stay in Their Homes

For Women & Co., by Heather Spohr, The Spohrs Are Multiplying

According to a poll by the non-profit Rebuilding Together, 92 percent of homeowners over the age of 50 want to grow old in their homes, but living self-sufficiently (even with a spouse) can become increasingly difficult and potentially dangerous for seniors as they age. Thankfully, there are lots of things adult children of seniors can do to make their parents' homes safer and more accessible, regardless of how much -- or how little -- the family can afford to spend.

No-Cost or Low-Cost Modifications

De-clutter: Seniors tend to have accumulated a lot of possessions over the years, but too much paraphernalia can put them at risk for falls. Remove clutter so that rooms are as sparse as possible.

Re-organize: Put the items your parents use often in the most accessible places. This is especially important in the kitchen.

Adjust lighting: Nightlights can be placed throughout the home (especially in hallways and bathrooms) to improve visibility. It's also a good idea to replace low-wattage light bulbs with high-wattage ones.

Reduce slip risk: Help fall-proof your parents' flooring by securing rugs with non-skid pads or tacks and using non-skid wax on the floors. Wet floors in bathrooms are also a major slip risk for seniors. Slip-resistant rugs are perfect for bathrooms because they won't move even when the floors are wet.

Medium-Cost Modifications

Safe-T-element Cooking System: Once installed over the stovetop, this device will shut off burners if they're accidentally left on and get too hot.

Security poles with curved grab bars: Install these next to the shower, toilet, couch and/or bed to help your parents safely rise, sit, and get in and out of difficult-to-navigate spaces.

Ramps: Parents who use a wheelchair or have mobility issues will especially appreciate this ease of access to and from their homes.

Higher-Cost Modifications

Stair lifts: These mechanical devices will safely transport a parent up or down stairs on a seat that attaches to the wall.

Walk-in tubs: These tubs have a door that opens so one doesn't have to step over the side to get in or out. They also usually come with a built-in seat and grab bars for safe bathing.

Sensors: Incredible new technology -- in the form of sensors placed throughout the home -- can help you keep tabs on how your elderly loved ones are doing. If your parents interrupt their daily pattern of behavior (such as not getting out of bed or not returning from a trip to the bathroom), you can be notified.

Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women. By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.'s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures.

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