Health Benefits

Modify Your Home, Improve Your Independence

As the “aging in place” movement gathers momentum, and with people living increasingly longer lives, many older adults are choosing to stay in their homes rather than move to an assisted living facility or nursing home.

With a few modifications, you can live more independently and make your home a safe one for years to come. Here are tips for making your home more safe and secure:


  • Implement “main-floor living”—meaning the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom are all on the ground floor—to eliminate using stairs to help reduce the risk of falls.
  • Install light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and make sure stairwells are well lit. Consider motion-activated lighting in hallways, stairways, and bathrooms.
  • Remove small rugs, electrical cords, and other trip hazards. Put non-stick backing on area rugs and carpet runners.
  • Add a shower chair, handrails, and non-skid tape to the bathtub.
  • Install an elevated toilet seat and grab bars nearby.
  • Add a grab bar or railing beside your bed, where you dress, and along hallways.
  • Turn down the thermostat on your water heater to prevent scalding.
  • Consider installing a device on your stove to turn it off when not in use for a certain length of time.
  • Have the wiring and plumbing in your home inspected to make sure they are up to code.
  • Keep smoke alarms in working order and have an evacuation plan so you can quickly and safely exit your home in an emergency.
  • Keep your phone with you and have phone chargers in the kitchen, next to your bed, and wherever you spend most of your time.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Keep emergency numbers nearby as well as auto-programmed into your phone.
  • Make sure paths from the bedroom to other areas of the house are clear.
  • Place phones where they can be reached from the floor in case of a fall.
  • Consider an emergency alert button in case you fall.
  • Consider a medical alert wristband if you have a serious medical condition or if you’ve struggled with finding your way home lately.


  • Make sure all door and window locks function properly.
  • Check for cracked windows and make any necessary repairs.
  • Have a home security system installed.
  • Consider a “buddy system” with friends and neighbors and check in with each other regularly.

The U.S. Administration on Aging Eldercare Locator website offers additional tips on home modification and connects older adults and their loved ones with local community resources and support.

For members enrolled in CalPERS Medicare health plans, most plans offer additional supplemental benefits such as post hospital discharge transportation and meals. Check with your plan for more information.