How Senior Home Repairs and/or Modifications Allow Elders to Age in Place

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by: Tehila Mörtl


One of the biggest elder issues involves home repairs and modifications.  As we review some of the modifications which can allow your otherwise healthy elder to remain in their home and for the opportunity to age in place.  There is a vast range of options available to disabled individuals which the geriatric care managers at Advise & Protect Senior Care Consultants will be happy to review with you

For instance, one suffering with arthritis or other disabling functioning of the hands, replacing door knobs with levered handles or ones which can be opened by push button are excellent examples.  More common needs to keep a senior at home include installing handrails on both sides of indoor and outdoor steps be it one or a few; plus, ramps if stairs pose too much difficulty or should one need use of a cane, wheelchair or even mobility scooter. 

To address your elder issues, there might also be a need to adjust cabinet height in kitchen and bath.  Walk-in showers are another consideration those dealing with physical challenges such as stepping over the side of a tub being too difficult for a variety of reasons. 

When looking to help your elder live more independently and maintain their home, an occupational therapist can offer invaluable advise on what modifications are necessary to best adapt your elders home for safe accessibility. 

There are a number of resources not only for making such modifications but in receiving assistance for those who are on a limited income to assist your senior at home.  For instance, one can check for his or her state’s listings for agencies and organizations which offer such funding.  One nationwide program is Rebuilding Together, a 100,000 volunteer strong organization, offering low-income homeowners with critical home repairs, accessibility modifications and energy-efficient upgrades.”  Lest we not forget the good works of Veterans Housing Initiative through Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) which focuses on modifications and repairs for retired and active military members.  The VA offers grants to service members and veterans with certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities to help them buy or build an adapted home, or modify their existing residence.  For more information on the two grants which are available, please contact the VA at (800) 827-1000 to request appropriate form(s) and application(s).  Please remember many of the services provided by Advise & Protect Senior Care Consultants are offered at no charge to seniors and their families. 

Those without veteran status, may contact their regional office on aging. In addition, the local independent living center might also be able to offer suggestions on assistance paying for necessary modifications and repairs; as well as, housing assistance, health care and how enhance one’s independent living skills.

Additional examples of what modifications can be made to allow for making one’s home more accessible include:  

  • Paved walkways from parking to home entry and ground level entry
  • Ease of entry (i.e. modified doorways, 32” or greater, to allow for wheelchair access)
  • Homes with a one or two step entry that will allow for one inch increase in height per one foot in length.
  • Hallways with a minimum width of 42 inches, preferably 48 to 60 inches
  • Kitchen modeled in a U or L shape offering easy wheelchair access
  • Front operational controls on all appliances (i.e. countertop range, front loading dishwasher and laundry appliances)
  • Wall over lowered to 30 to 40 inches in height
  • Shelving no greater than 18 inches deep
  • Pullout cutting board
  • Lever handled faucets
  • Bathroom offering a 5 foot square clearance to allow for 360º turning radius
  • Tilted or lowered mirror(s)
  • Cabinets, racks and shelves at chair height
  • Fold down, hinged seat in shower
  • Wheelchair accessible shower
  • Skid proof flooring in shower
  • Adjustable or held-held shower head
  • Toilet seat not to exceed 17 to 19 inches in height
  • Reinforced ceilings to allow for weight bearing lift assist equipment
  • Sliding or bi-fold doors
  • Adjustable closet rods
  • Proximity to public transportation 

Should you have questions, need additional assistance or even have valuable information on senior home modification to allow for aging in place and would like to share with other readers, please feel welcome and encouraged to contact us directly.


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