It's easier than ever to age in place today. Anyone can create a secure and beautiful home thanks to innovative technology and well-made, safer-for-you fixtures that strike a good balance between fashion and function.
So, which items do you need in your home? Below are our picks for 10 essential items which appear repeatedly in our guides. If you're an adult child caring for a parent, many of these products also provide non-invasive remote monitoring so you can maintain peace of mind from a distance.
Note: Older adults with specific functional impairments — limited vision, hearing loss, difficulty walking — may require different items based on their needs.
Start With a Safety Assessment
In addition to the products listed here, we recommend that every older adult get a home safety assessment. Medicare will cover these assessments as long as they’re ordered by your primary care physician, so the first step is to speak to them. The agency that performs the assessment will bill Medicare and your Part B benefits will pay for the assessment.
Another good resource is this state-by-state guide to finding fall prevention resources near you from the National Council on aging. You can contact the fall prevention coalition in your area to see what types of support they offer.
Our Top Items
We worked with top geriatricians, professional caregivers, and families to curate the top items that make life at home easier and safer.
- Amazon Echo
A reliable smart home device is the foundation of a good home setup. By letting you control or monitor many aspects of your home, like light switches, faucets, and even the door to your refrigerator, it makes things that were difficult before simple. While you can make any smart home device work, we recommend the Echo because it works with the majority of smart home products and also supports the Alexa Together program.
Another feature we love is the Drop In feature that allows you to have an instant conversation between two Alexa devices. This is particularly useful if a loved one isn’t picking up their phone and you want to check-in — you can simply “drop in on kitchen” or “drop in on living room” through your Alexa to connect.
Amazon Echo (4th Gen); $49.99
- Kasa Smart Light Bulbs
Few things are as important as having the right lighting in your home. As we get older, our vision naturally changes, so we need more light to make up for it. You can use your voice to turn these smart bulbs on and off, which makes them easy to control. They also pair with Alexa.
Kasa Smart Light Bulbs, 4-Pack; $31.99
- Apple Watch SE + Series 4 and later
The Apple Watch has a number of great features for aging in place. Our favorite is the fall detection feature, which can tell if you’ve taken a tumble and prompt an emergency call. Features like Walking Speed and Walking Asymmetry in the health section (also available in the iPhone) provide helpful data — a slowing or uneven gait that begins abruptly can indicate an acute illness like a flu or urinary tract infection. Emergency SOS allows you to promptly make a call to 911. Note that for this feature to work, the watch needs to have cellular service or have Wi-Fi calling enabled.
- Automatic window blinds
Depression can set in when we don't receive enough natural light, and as we age, it may seem less "worth it" to struggle to open heavy blinds that can easily break. As a result, many older adults spend their time sitting in the dark. Automatic blinds that are operated by a remote are a smart and affordable addition to any home, like this model from ZSHINE ($125). SwitchBot ($99) also makes an aftermarket device that can open and close curtains via your iPhone or Alexa.
- Grab bars
Don’t wait until there’s an accident to install grab bars in your home. Put them in your bathroom, hallways, and anywhere else that could be slippery or benefit from extra support. We like Ponte Giulio bars from Italy because they come in a variety of colors and sizes. This Lenoir Angled Bar is also a nice addition for the bathroom.
- Smart stove knobs
Who among us hasn’t left a burner on accidentally? Smart stove knobs prevent this from happening, so you can have peace of mind that your burner will be turned off when you’re done with it.
At the more expensive end of the market, we like Ome Kitchen burners ($649 for a 4-pack), which automatically shut off burners that are left on accidentally. A more economical version is BurnerAlert ($79.99 for a 4-pack), which beeps when a stove has been left on and also connects to Alexa.
- Vinyl flooring
Flooring can be tricky: thick carpeting and area rugs increase the likelihood of tripping, but a bit of "cushioning" is essential to soften the surface. Vinyl is an excellent option because it's water-resistant and more forgiving than tile or wood. If a fall does occur,vinyl absorbs more energy and makes the difference between a bruise and a fracture. Vinyl used to feel more fitting for a gym floor than a home, but in recent years, a variety of well-designed choices have emerged. We like Optoro Trail and Harvey Maria.
- Motion-sensor lighting
Adding motion-sensor lighting to any hard-to-see-places — inside shelves, cabinets, under the bed — makes it easier to move from space to space with good visibility. We like these Illuminate motion-activated strip lights (starting at $29.99), but any motion-activated lighting that works well for you is a good pick.
- A comfortable shower stool
The shower is a notorious danger zone for aging-in-place, as its slick surfaces make it much easier to slip and fall. If you’re reluctant to get a shower stool due to the look and feel, Aqua Teak’s Asia Ascend Teak Shower Bench ($209.95) is a stylish addition that also adds stability.
- Good organization tools
As we age, it becomes more necessary than ever to eliminate clutter; leaving stuff around makes it far more likely that we will trip accidentally. We love West Elm’s cable organizer $32) and their metal sliding baskets ($57) to maximize cabinet space.Nothing you use frequently should be difficult to access, but keeping it organized helps prevent clutter from accumulating. We also love stable stools like this model from DMI and grabbing devices that enable you to pick up items from high places — you should never be standing on chairs or other surfaces.