Modifying a home can make it safer and more accessible for elders to live independently longer. Home modifications adapt a living space so that the homeowners can live safely, perform everyday tasks more easily and live independently despite their physical limitations. Home modifications can be as simple as adding a hand rail in the bathroom or as complex as removing a staircase for a wheelchair ramp.
Many elders have houses that were built before architects thought about spaces that were accessible to everyone. Narrow stairs and doorways are fine for someone of a younger age but could be dangerous for senior citizens.
Assessing a home to determine what modifications are necessary is the first step in the modification process. The elder and/or their family can walk room by room through the home and look for areas of improvement.
When walking through each room think about:
- Safety- Can the senior move around the room and perform tasks safely? Does anything in the room pose a hazard?
- Accessibility- Is everything accessible to the senior? Can they reach switches, doors, cabinets and plugs? Can they perform desired and necessary tasks in each room?
- Adaptability- Are there thing in the room that can easily be adapted so that tasks are easier for seniors to use and reach so that they can get around more safely and easily?
There are many home modification checklists that can provide you with examples of things to look for.
You can also get help from specialists such as occupational therapists and certified aging-in place specialists (CAPS) to assist you with identifying ways to make your elder’s home safer, and plan for their home modifications once you determine what is needed.
Most seniors prefer to remain in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible. And sometimes it only takes a few modifications to make that possible.