Guide for Home Accessibility Modifications for Seniors

For many older adults, home modifications are a necessity in order for their living space to be safe and accessible. Proper modifications will allow your loved one to perform tasks better and live independently, even with their physical limitations. If you are considering making some changes in your senior’s home, here are a few tips to consider before you get started!

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Decide who will be doing the modifications

A home modification to accommodate aging in place can be as simple as installing a chair in the shower, or it can involve major structural changes like replacing the steps outside of the home with a wheelchair ramp. When considering the accessibility modifications that need to be made in your loved one’s home, discern what can be done as a do-it-yourself project, and what needs to be completed by a professional.

Perform an assessment on each room of the house and determine if anything poses a safety hazard and if your senior can move around the room easily to perform tasks. Also notice if they’re able to access switches, cabinets, doors, and outlets. Take heed of what needs to be adapted so it is easier for your senior to reach or use. Projects that you can manage by yourself or with the help of a friend include installing grab bars in the bathroom, lowering countertops, and changing out knobs and levers. For your safety and to avoid costly mistakes, any electrical and plumbing work should be done by a skilled professional.

When you are looking to enlist the help of a professional contractor, it is wise to get a few recommendations from family or close friends who have had similar work done previously. Meet with at least three contractors and discuss which modifications you would like, and get an estimate from each contractor. Note that part of the estimate involves the cost of materials, so it is wise to call material suppliers to see how much supplies cost prior to being marked up by the contractor. This will help you determine if the contractor’s mark-up is reasonable or if you need to explore other options. Be sure to hire a contractor who has a complete understanding of what is needed to make your senior’s home accessible and easy to navigate. A good contractor should understand what to expect during the course of a project; however, should anything unexpected occur, they should be able to work with you effectively and efficiently to resolve the issue.

Benefits of aging in place

Many family members of aging adults believe that instead of going through a home modification process, it is easier to place their loved one in an assisted living facility or nursing home. However, plucking a senior out of the environment that they have grown accustomed to for decades is not ideal for their well-being and can have a negative impact on their health by increasing the risk of depression and feelings of isolation. Today, seniors prefer to “age in place,” which means living in their place of residence for as long as they are able. Making a few home modifications will allow them to keep their independence while living in a safe and familiar environment, and prove to be a cost-effective alternative to other housing options.

Helping your senior make accessibility modifications to their home will grant you peace of mind in knowing that they are able to move around and perform tasks safely. Also, your loved one will be able to transition into this next phase of life without having to let go of what has been such a huge part of their life!

 

From our friend Hazel Bridges

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