Another way to add space to an existing bathroom is to replace the bathtub with a shower, he says. One option is a no-lip shower stall that can accommodate a wheelchair or walker.
Cornwell sells GatorGrip "peel and stick" traction mats, which he says are more secure (and less slime-prone) than removable mats.
4. Move downstairs
To make a home as easy as possible to navigate, consider moving the master bedroom downstairs. When possible, opt for open spaces over small rooms and narrow hallways.
Eliminate hazards such as throw rugs or excess clutter. Install railings on both sides of any stairs. Make sure there's plenty of lighting in the hallways. Tenenbaum recommends soft lighting between the bedroom and bathroom, eliminating the shock and glare of going from darkness to bright light.
Think about how you live inside the home, he suggests. Ask yourself: Are clean clothes within easy reach? Is laundry manageable? Is cooking? Is there a comfortable chair with bright lighting for reading? A desk with bright lighting for paying bills?
CAPS-trained contractors look closely at transitions between rooms. Thresholds, which can be trip hazards, can be eliminated or covered with gentle ramps, Hage says. Monochromatic rooms may be attractive, but they can be confusing to older eyes. Use contrasting colors to indicate transition from one room to another, or to show the edge of a countertop or the top of a staircase, he advises.
5. Furniture with function
Getting in and out of beds and chairs can be challenging for aging joints and muscles, so Tenenbaum recommends electric beds that can be raised or lowered, and chairs with spring or electrical tilt mechanisms.
To provide support for getting out of a bed or chair, a SuperPole, which extends from floor to ceiling, can be installed and moved easily, he says. For people who need more help, he suggests a motorized ceiling lift since it takes up virtually no space.
6. Kitchen solutions don't have be costly
In the kitchen, making the countertop lower in some spots creates space for a wheelchair or for a person to sit while preparing foods. A simpler solution is to purchase a cutting board that can be used at the kitchen table, Tenenbaum says. Hage suggests putting the dishes that are used most frequently in cabinets that are easy to reach, ideally 18 to 48 inches off the floor. Consider investing in cabinets with pull-out drawers and trays, Tenenbaum says. As in other rooms, adequate light is important, he adds.
7. Think outside as well as inside
Front walkways pose special hazards, particularly if they have steps. Ramps can be built in some circumstances, but they can detract from resale value and are not always practical, says Hage. "If the door is three to four feet off the ground, you'd need a 60-foot ramp."
In some cases, a motorized lift makes more sense. Or a window at the back of the house can be converted to a door with a ramp leading up to it, Brock said.
Other ideas: Install motion-sensor lighting that illuminates the walk, remove loose bricks and smooth out uneven surfaces, and create a "package shelf" for the homeowner to put down a handbag or groceries without having to stoop to pick them up. Cornwell also recommends a railing on both sides of the stairs, and a grab bar between the storm door and the main door.
And don't forget: Lawns need mowing, driveways need shoveling, gutters need cleaning and so on. Brock recommends finding people who can do these tasks when the homeowner is no longer able to. On the other hand, if you like gardening, you might be able to stick with it longer if you switch to raised beds, Tenenbaum said.
8. Find ways to stay in touch
We're all familiar with the old television commercials for Life Alert, with the famous despairing cry, "I've fallen and I can't get up." Monitoring systems have gotten more sophisticated, no longer requiring any action on the part of the person who needs help, Tenenbaum says.
A company called BeClose in Vienna, Va., for example, combines the alert button with wireless sensors throughout the home, so caregivers and loved ones can track the routines of people inside the home, such as whether they are using the bathroom more or opening the refrigerator less.
Also, consider forming relationships with neighbors who can check on you regularly, and seek out transportation alternatives if you can no longer drive.
"People want to stay in their homes," Cornwell says. "Sometimes, one little thing will make a big difference. People will say to me, 'I don't know how I got along without stair rails.' "