Home Modifications are Physical Changes to a Home to Accommodate the Changing Needs of the Elderly or Disabled

Home modifications enable aging in place. As we age, our mobility and physical strength diminish and many aspects of a home that were once functional become difficult. Home modifications can be as simple as changing water faucet handles from knobs to levers or as comprehensive as the construction of an accessory apartment or elder cottage on the property.

Common Types of Home Modifications for the Elderly

There are many different types of modifications that can be made to accommodate for aging challenges. While not comprehensive, the following list is included to give readers an idea of common changes.

• Accessory Apartments – both for the elderly and live-in caregivers
• Climate Controls – installing larger digital displays and / or remote controls
• Computer Equipment – large screen monitors and oversized keyboards
• Easy Use Fixtures – oversized light switches and levers replacing or installed over faucet knobs
• Grab Bars and Rails – in bathrooms and hallways assist persons in preventing falls and improving mobility
• Lighting – modifications within the home and around the property for increased visibility and security
• Pull Out Shelves – also referred to as roll-out, glide-out or slide-out shelves, these enable easy access to deeper spaces for clothing, food and other storage.
• Push Button Door Openers – to automate the opening and closing of doors
 Security Systems – remote monitoring and personal emergency response systems (PERS). More on paying for PERS specifically.
• Smoothing Floor Surfaces – removal of molding, carpeting and anything on the floor which limits the mobility of a wheelchair
• Software Tools – that enabled increased independence
• Stair Lifts – also called Stair Glides or Lift Chairs. Learn more about paying for stair lifts here.
• Traction or Non-Skid Strips – installed most commonly in bathrooms but also anywhere a floor is hazardous or slippery including kitchens and staircases.
• Transfer Benches – also called showering benches or transfer chairs, these enable individuals to get in and out of showers, tubs and wheelchairs with little or no assistance.
• Walk in Tubs – seated bathtubs, sometimes wheelchair accessible. Learn more about paying for walk in tubs.
• Weatherization – such as storm windows, screening and air conditioning
• Wheelchair Ramps – for persons unable to manage stairways. More on paying for wheelchair ramps.
• Widening Doorways and Hallways – to accommodate for wheelchairs and walkers

Determining What Home Modifications are Needed

While it is possible and tempting for the non-professional to assess the modifications required to make a home both accessible and safe for the elderly, the use of a professional occupational therapist can be worth the additional effort and is sometimes paid for by Medicare. There are two major considerations. First, it is important to recognize that aging is a progression, modifications to accommodate needs today might not be sufficient for needs two years in the future. Being able to project how one’s needs will change is of critical importance, if one hopes to make lifelong modifications in a single project.

Second, knowledge of assistive technologies is critical. There are many devices on the market today and importantly a flood of new options become available each year. To make the most cost-effective modifications, one needs to be aware of the full breadth of products on the market today but also the tools that will be available in the near future.

SOURCE: Paying for Senior Care