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How to adapt your home as you get older

Getting the right home adaptations can help an older or disabled person stay safe and independent in their own home for as long as possible.
3 min read
In this article
The benefits of home adaptations Adaptations around the home Getting help paying for home adaptations
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The benefits of home adaptations

Making the right adaptations in the home, at the right time, is an important way to help you stay independent in the comfort of your own home for as long as possible in later life. And while adaptations can be expensive, they will often work out to be more cost-effective than other options, such as moving house or going into residential care. 

Home adaptations can help you to continue carrying out everyday activities, prevent falls and injuries, and improve health and wellbeing. As a result, appropriate home adaptations can delay or avoid the need for an older person to move into a care home or sheltered accommodation.

If you’re arranging home adaptations for an older family member or friend, try to involve them as much as possible in the planning process. Home adaptations are more likely to be a success when they are tailored to the individual needs and wishes of the person who will be living with them. In addition, look for expert advice from an occupational therapist (OT) or your local council’s social services team, who can help to advise on appropriate solutions.

Adaptations around the home

There are many adaptations that can help to make different parts of the home safer or more accessible. These range from inexpensive jobs, such as installing grab rails in the bathroom or on the stairs, to more extensive projects like installing a stairlift. Some popular options are listed below – these and others are explained in more detail in separate articles.

  • Bathroom adaptations: a bathroom can be transformed with the right adaptations. Depending on your needs, you might install grab rails by the bath or toilet, a bath lift, or a walk-in bath or shower.
  • Grab rails: provide extra confidence when negotiating steps or stairs or when changing position, such as when getting in and out bed.
  • Ramps: either permanent or portable, ramps can help those with mobility issues to get in and out of the house, or move from one part of the home to another.
  • Stairlifts: although a major investment, a stairlift can be the ideal solution for someone with limited mobility who wants to continue living independently in a homes with stairs.

In addition to adaptations around the home, there’s also a range of devices available to help with independent living – from adapted kitchen utensils to more advanced technology to keep you safe.

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Getting help paying for home adaptations

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get help with the costs of home adaptations. Local authorities in different parts of the UK operate a variety of schemes to help those who are deemed to have eligible needs.

The first step is always to request a free needs assessment from your local authority. This will enable them to gauge your needs and decide on what level of support you are entitled to.

Local authority support comes in various forms:

  • Local councils may arrange or carry out minor adaptations in your home – and in some cases this can be free of charge.
  • Local authorities offer grants to help disabled people make necessary modifications to their homes. For example, in England you can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) of up to £30,000.
  • Home Improvement Agencies are government-funded organisations that can help you work out which adaptations you need and how to get them.

For more information about what support is available, read our guide to financial assistance for home adaptations. 

And if you don’t qualify for assistance, we also have advice on how to cover the costs of adaptations yourself.

Find a reputable trader with Which? Trusted Traders

When you’re planning any home adaptations, it’s important to get the work completed by someone trustworthy. Which? Trusted Traders endorses local tradespeople, taking the hassle out of finding the right firm. 

Further reading

Bathroom adaptations

We explain your options for making bathing easier – including walk-in baths, walk-in showers and wet rooms.

Installing a stairlift

Find advice on stairlifts, wheelchair lifts, hand rails and walking sticks, and avoiding common hazards on stairways.

Last updated: 10 Nov 2020