What to Consider When Choosing Doors for Elderly Households

As we age, mobility and accessibility become more challenging. For elderly households, it's important to consider every aspect of the home to ensure safety and ease of movement. One crucial element to consider is the doors. Doors can present challenges for those with limited mobility or physical disabilities. In this blog post, we'll explore what factors to consider when choosing entryways for elderly households.

Key Considerations for Safety and Security

Turn to Traditional Solutions

When it comes to door design, traditional solutions can often work best for elderly households. For example, hinged doors with lever-style handles are easier to operate than round doorknobs. Lever handles require less grip strength and are easier to manipulate with an elbow, forearm, or closed fist. Additionally, traditional doors with swing hinges can benefit from the addition of swing-clear hinges, which allow the door to swing completely clear of the doorway opening. This can provide additional space and reduce the risk of tripping or falling.

Consider the State of Health

While swing doors are a timeless choice for interior design, they may not be suitable for elderly individuals with limited mobility or physical disabilities, such as arthritis or joint-related conditions. These individuals may experience difficulty operating the handle, and the configuration of a swing entryway can cause movement problems for those with other health issues. In such situations, a sliding door may be a better choice, with options including standard sliding, barn, pocket, and bypass ones.

  • Standard Sliding Door

Sliding doors are a space-saving and modern alternative to traditional hinged doors. They operate smoothly and come in different materials, such as wood, glass, or metal, to match the desired aesthetic. Additionally, they can offer better insulation than hinged panels, making them energy-efficient. Overall, sliding doors are a practical and stylish choice for homes.

  • Barn Door

Barn doors are a stylish addition to homes, adding a rustic touch. They come in different styles and can be customized to fit any design. Consider the size, weight, and aesthetic of the room when choosing barn entryways. With proper hardware and installation, they can be both functional and stylish.

  • Pocket Door

Pocket doors are sliding doors that disappear into an adjacent wall compartment when open. They are great for small homes and offices because they save space and create an open floor plan. Pocket doorways are versatile and functional and can be used in bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms. They come in different materials like wood, glass, and metal, making it easy to match your decor. In short, pocket openings are a practical and stylish addition to any space.

  • Bypass Door

Bypass doors are a popular space-saving solution for homes, allowing access by moving two panels parallel to the doorway. They can be made of wood, metal, or glass and customized to fit any doorway. When choosing bypass sliding doors, consider the room's style, natural light, and privacy needs to create a functional and stylish space.

Make Doorway Wide Enough

Wider doors and hallways are recommended to make accessibility easier for elderly individuals using wheelchairs, strollers, or walkers. The minimum doorway width for aging-in-place design per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is 36 inches.

Don't Choose Heavy Doors

As we age, our physical strength decreases, so it's important to choose high-quality doors that are not too heavy. Solid core doors are a great option because they are reliable and attractive but not as dense as solid wood ones.

Get Rid of Thresholds

Thresholds can present a challenge for individuals with limited mobility, as they can protrude and cause falls or injuries. Additionally, thresholds can impede wheelchair movement. It is recommended to create a smooth transition from one room to another to avoid these issues.

Go For Easy Locking

For privacy purposes, it's recommended to choose simple and convenient locking systems that operate smoothly and don't cause issues with opening and closing. However, if you or a close relative has serious health problems that could lead to loss of consciousness or other dangerous consequences, it may be best to avoid locks altogether.

Increase Illumination with Glass

Consider choosing doors with glass panels to brighten up your home during the daytime and reduce energy consumption. Sunlight can enter through the glass, eliminating the need for artificial lighting and helping to avoid low-light conditions.


Choosing the right doors for elderly households requires careful consideration of safety, mobility, and accessibility. Traditional solutions like lever-style handles and swing-clear hinges can be helpful, while sliding doors like barn, pocket, and bypass doors can offer a practical and stylish alternative. It's also important to ensure doorways are wide enough, choose doors that are not too heavy, get rid of thresholds, and choose simple and convenient locking systems. With these considerations in mind, you can create a safe and comfortable environment for elderly individuals.


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