Safely Age-in-Place With These Common Area Modifications

The popular trend of aging-in-place continues to grow as senior safety, monitoring products and senior-friendly home design become increasingly more reliable.

In fact, in 2009 93 percent of all Medicare enrollees over the age of 65 were already aging and living in traditional communities. Further research suggests that an overwhelming 82 percent of seniors would still desire to age-in-place even if they needed day-to-day assistance.

As we mentioned last week, even with safety products becoming increasingly more reliable senior safety experts are still wary of the safety of our vulnerable elderly loved ones. However, with the right safety procedures and products in place, seniors can confidently and safely age-in-place.

Last week we explored kitchen design, this week we will continue our aging-in-place blog series by exploring common area (living room, hall way, entrance, etc.) modifications that can be strategically made to help your senior safely age-in-place.

Doors and Room Entrances

In an effort to increase accessibility for all modes of mobility (walker, wheelchair, etc.) doorways should be a minimum of 32 inches wide. In fact, many age-in-place experts suggest doors be 36 inches wide. This allows easy access to any room without fear of banging knuckles or wheels.

Since it can often be difficult to open round door knobs, all knobs should be replaced with door levers. In addition, keep doorways free of clutter and hinges greased so that they can easily be opened.

Room Storage

Often common areas are home to book shelves, cabinets and storage drawers. Similar to kitchen storage, these areas should be kept neat and items should be within easy reaching distance to prevent your elderly loved one from having to bend too far or stand on their toes or a stool to reach an item.

Knobs on cabinets and storage drawers should also be replaced with a knob that can easily be grabbed. Another cool feature are storage cabinets or shelves on sliders so that seniors can reach items in the back of the shelf/cabinet without having to reach too far.

Hallways and Staircases

Transition areas so always be well-lit and kept free of clutter. If possible, keep these areas clear of power cords. If this is not possible, make sure that the cords are out of the way as much as possible and invest in cord covers and tape to allow wheeled objects to easily roll over them. It is also smart to utilize night lights that can operate even in a power outage. Make sure hand rails are fastened securely to the wall. If you have a balance impaired loved one, strategically place grab rails throughout transition areas.


Similar to the kitchen, lighting in common areas is important. These areas are often used to congregate, read or watch tv. Low-lighting can be difficult on the eyes when trying to read or focus and also dangerous when trying to navigate. The thermostat is often located in a common area, make sure it can easily be reached by your elderly loved one and train them on how to use it.


Make sure any rugs, carpeting, laminate or wood flooring is safely secured. Use non-slip grip under rugs and on steps to prevent tripping. If you have any loose floor boards or curled-up laminate edges make sure to fix these immediately to prevent a slip, trip or fall.

SmartCells Fall Protection mats and flooring help prevent falls and serious injury without compromising accessibility.

The unique SmartCells dual-stiffness technology provides stability for balance impaired persons and care givers, while at the same time providing life-saving cushioning to protect our loved ones when they fall.

SmartCells Fall Protection mats combine effectiveness with style and quality, including features like a low profile height (1/2”) and molded-in beveled edges which reduce tripping hazards and allow most wheeled objects to roll over the mat, without needing to move it out of the way.

SmartCells Fall Protection mats are available in a variety of colors (Black, Light Brown, and Grey) and configurations ranging from pre-sized mats (3×5 and 24×68) to build-your-own mats to fit custom-sized areas.

SmartCells Fall Protection flooring provides a cushioned sub-floor under selected commercial floor coverings.

SmartCells Fall Protection mats and flooring are made of latex-free rubber that will not absorb liquids, which reduces the risk of contamination and infection and allows them to be easily cleaned. Independent testing, using widely accepted protocols (ATSM F355 – 10a) indicates that SmartCells cushioning technology is 2 – 4 times more effective at attenuating impact forces than other products that are nearly twice as thick.

SmartCells Fall Protection: We’ll be there when you can’t be.