Creating a safe and comfortable home is a common goal, and safety can be a crucial issue for older adults and disabled individuals. Many seniors wish to remain in their homes for as long as possible, maintaining their independence. This goal may at some point necessitate structural modifications to ensure safety. People with disabilities may also need home modifications to enable them to access the different rooms and levels of their homes. Mechanical lifts are one feature that can be installed to facilitate accessibility between levels and give people more independence in and around their homes.
Modifications for Seniors
Preventing falls is an important goal of home modifications for older adults. If a fall occurs, the resulting injury could begin a cascading sequence of health issues that contribute to an overall decline in health. Aging typically creates physical problems such as poor eyesight, balance issues, weakness, and pain that limits mobility. To prevent falls, furniture should be arranged in a way that enables a simple traffic flow without electrical cords and loose items such as throw rugs impeding the walkways. Adequate lighting is also important; ensure that rooms are brightly lit, especially at night. Using night lights can be helpful, but elderly people should also have access to convenient switches for turning on bright lights from bed or from a chair. Clap-activated lighting is a popular solution. Installing handrails and grab bars in bathrooms helps with independence as well. And stair lifts can provide accessibility to upper and lower floors without the need for navigating steps.
Modifications for Disabled Individuals
When a physical disability provides mobility challenges, modifications in the home can make it possible for people to maintain some level of independence. At the entrance to the home, modifications can be performed to eliminate all steps. A ramp with a power entry door and locks can enable independence and security. Doors may need to be widened to accommodate mobility equipment. Having the bathroom and bedroom on the main floor can eliminate the need for stair access, or you can install stair lifts to provide access to upper or lower rooms. Modifying storage and work areas in the kitchen can put everything within reach so standing to full height is not necessary. In the bathroom, it may be necessary to restructure the layout of the room to make space for a wheelchair or walker. A roll-in shower is an ideal modification, and shower controls must be positioned to be within reach and easy to manipulate. Grab bars near the toilet and shower can also provide accessibility and independence.
Covering the Costs
Paying for these home modifications can seem prohibitive. Many insurance policies do not cover these types of home improvements, or the coverage may be only partial. To help with some of the expenses, people may turn to programs designed to provide funding assistance. These grant programs include federal, state, and local organizations as well as private charities. Most programs require participants to apply for financial assistance. The applications will likely request financial information, which will be considered during the review of the application.
In the process of making a safe and secure home for an elderly or disabled person, health care services can assist to ensure success. Part of the assistance focuses on education because many items that pose hazards may seem harmless at first glance. Even a small throw rug in the kitchen may seem inconsequential, but throw rugs are a common cause of falls in the home. Wearing a medical alert device is also prudent because this device will alert caregivers if a fall or other accident occurs.
- Aging Well: Making Your Home Fall-Proof
- Creating a Fall-Proof Environment in Your Home (PDF)
- Fall Prevention at Home: An 18-Step Safety Checklist
- 14 Ways to Fall-Proof a Home or Living Area
- A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults (PDF)
- Guidance on the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (PDF)
- Making Your Home Accessible, No Matter Your Age or Ability (PDF)
- A Descriptive Study of Home Modifications for People With Dementia and Barriers to Implementation
- Aging in Place: Facilitating Choice and Independence
- Fall-Proofing Your Home
- Healthy Homes (PDF)
- Home Modifications: Use, Cost, and Interactions With Functioning Among Near-Elderly and Older Adults
- Making Your Home More Accessible
- Making Home Modifications for People With Disabilities
- Home Safety for People With Disabilities (PDF)
- Home Modification (PDF)
- How to Develop a Home Modification Initiative (PDF)
- Resources for Home Repairs, Modifications, and Assistive Technology (PDF)
- Funding Sources for Home Modifications