How To Modify A Bedroom For A Loved One With Limited Mobility

Laurel McLaughlin

Most of us spend a lot of time in our bedrooms. Oftentimes a safe oasis, the bedroom is viewed as a safe oasis and an important room in the home.

However, as our loved ones age, the setup of their bedroom may no longer be ideal, or even safe, especially if they have a disability or limited mobility.

Why Is Having An Accessible Bedroom Important?

If your loved one has an inaccessible bedroom it can be dangerous and decrease the chance of them living independently.

Making safety adaptations can:

  • Decrease the risk of falls

  • Increase their ability to independently complete activities of daily living 

  • Improve sleep quality

  • Increase the quality of life and wellbeing

As a caregiver, there are several home modifications that can be made to give your loved one easy access to their space.


7 Ways To Modify Your Loved One’s Bedroom

Ensuring that your loved one’s bedroom is safe can reduce their risk of falling. It can also relieve stress as your loved one navigates their bedroom.

Making the following home improvements can help your loved one age in place and enjoy independent living.


1. Relocate Their Bedroom 

Sometimes, the first obstacle is the size and location of the bedroom. 

If your loved one has mobility issues, they may benefit from having their bedroom on the main living floor with easy access to other parts of the home.

Reconsider where your loved one’s bedroom is by asking these questions:

  • Is the location of your loved one’s bedroom accessible?

    • Are there stairs they would need to climb to access their bedroom? 

    • Is there a bathroom on the same floor?

    • Is it large enough to allow easy access to walkways or paths for wheelchair users?

If there are stairs, consider adaptations such as:

  • Installing a stairlift

    • Adding handrails on both sides of the stairs

    • Moving the bedroom downstairs

      • Tip: Consider transforming an unused dining room or extra living room.

    • Installing a ramp 

      • Tip: Try this modification idea if only a few stairs are present.


2. Widen Entryways For Easy Access

Assess the bedroom’s entryway to ensure easy access to the room. Measure the opening to your loved one’s door to ensure it is wide enough for a wheelchair or walker to fit and easily move through. While they may not currently use a wheelchair or walker to get around, the more space your loved one has, the better.

  • Make sure the doorway is at least 32” (recommended by the ADA) to allow easy access for mobility devices.

    • Install a lever-style door knob which can be easier to manipulate than a standard doorknob.

    • If necessary and appropriate, remove the door to make it easier for a person with a mobility device to move through.


3. Check Out the Flooring

Some bedrooms are carpeted which can create resistance for assistive devices like wheelchairs and walkers. Laminate or hardwood flooring can create a smooth surface for your loved one to move over. Secure any wires or cords to the wall if it’s not possible to remove them entirely. 

Additionally, remove any throw rugs. While decorative, they are fall hazards.  

For older adults, falls can significantly impact your loved one’s health and well-being.


4. Reduce Clutter

Too much clutter can be overwhelming for your loved one and can also increase the risk of falls. Reducing clutter and increasing organization can greatly assist a disabled person.

  • Make sure there is a clear path to necessary spaces like closets, dressers, and windows.

    • Remove any furniture or decorations that would create obstacles in walkways. 

    • Decrease any extra items or decorations that are not necessary. You don’t want something to fall and for your loved one to struggle to reach down to get it.

    • Reorganize their closet and dresser to ensure that seasonally appropriate clothing is within easy reach.

    • Take items out of your loved one’s lower dresser drawers to make them easier to access.


5. Make Their Bed Accessible

Of course, being able to get in and out of the bed is key for an accessible bedroom

  • Consider installing bed rails that slide under the mattress and make it easier for your loved one to get in and out of bed. 

    • Look into an adjustable bed that can be moved to the correct height.

    • Install grab bars next to the bed on the wall.

    • Make sure bedding is appropriate- not too heavy, and not dragging on the floor.

    • Place fall mats at the base of the bed if your loved one has fallen out of bed.


6. Incorporate More Lighting Into Their Space

As your loved one ages, their eyesight may change. Especially at night, having adequate lighting is crucial.

  • Make sure lamps and light switches are at a reachable height.

    • Use motion-detecting lights to create a lit pathway out of the bedroom (especially to the bathroom) in case your loved one gets up in the middle of the night.


7. Use Technology For Convenience & Safety Purposes

Technology can be useful for your loved one with limited mobility.

Consider tools such as:

  • Smart technology that can control lights and thermostats

    • A wireless phone

    • An Automatic Fall Detection Device

Does Your Loved One Require  A Large Home Renovation? 

If your loved one’s home needs larger home renovations in order to age in place, consider exploring home modification loan programs. 

Projects might include adding a bedroom or bathroom to the first floor or expanding a room to make it easier to navigate. These are programs to assist people with disabilities to make adaptations to their homes. One program that may be available is Medicaid’s Home and Community Based Care Program. Some programs allow for adaptations to be made to the home of a family member if they are to house the disabled person. 

Caregivers can connect with their loved one’s local Area Agency on Aging to learn about programs in the area that may be available to them.

Making adaptations to your loved one’s bedroom can help keep them safe and comfortable. They can greatly increase your loved one’s home accessibility and allow for aging in place.