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Home Modifications for Aging in Place

Article submitted by Erik Listou - Living in Place Institute. For more information visit submitted by Erik Listou - Living in Place Institute. For more information visit

Do you want to continue living in your home? Do you have a family member or friend who wants to continue living in their home? Are you moving to a new home? How do you know what modifications you need to allow you, your family and friends to live safely and comfortably? Let me offer some suggestions about what are typical changes your home may need.

The first challenge to living in your home as you age is simply going into your home. Do you have steps? Steps can be a challenge for many persons, so eliminate those steps. Creating a no-step entry does not mean you home looks like a hospital. Often a gentle ramp, concrete, wood or metal can be pleasantly incorporated into your home’s design. Sometimes that entry can be through a garage or in some cases a short personal or wheelchair lift can be added. The next area of attention should be eliminating all falling hazards. Throw rugs are dangerous, hard surface floors or low pile carpeting are typically the best. Change your bathtub to either a walk-in shower or a deep relaxing tub with a door for easy entry. Inside stairs can usually be fitted with a lift to help either wheelchairs users or those who have difficulty with too many steps. Make sure your doorways are wide, 36” is best, and turn the bathroom doors around so they open out, critical if someone falls and needs help.

What other areas need attention in your home? Our vision requires much more light as we age. Create more task lighting in the kitchen and other work areas, being cautious to not create glare. Add night light and more general lighting in every room, including closets, entry ways and hallways. Use motion sensors for light switches, these devices turn the lights on and off automatically, also great for saving energy. Change all of your dangerous towel bars to ADA approved grab bars, they now come in many beautiful designs that will upgrade you home while providing fall protection. Also add grab bars everywhere and handrails on both sides of stairs and hallways, they will be used by everyone in your home.

These are only a few of the changes you may need in your home. Everyone has different needs and some of our needs change faster than others. You will need a trained professional to help you understand what your home needs. The top housing industry designation is CAPS, or Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. This program was created by AARP and the National Association of Home Builders to train housing professionals in all aspects of home modifications for aging in place. Many related professionals, OT’s and PT’s, material and service providers are taking this course to allow them to better understand individual needs in homes. To find a CAPS professional, visit or call me and I will help you connect to a trained professional who will help you age in place safely and comfortably!

Posted April 2012 on