100+ Home Modifications for Seniors and People With Disabilities: The Complete Guide
A significant number of American people are living in trouble with the problem of disability. The infrastructure of their house is not such that it can provide enough convenience for a disabled person to move and work. If we look at the report of the U.S. Census Bureau, we see that more than 40 million people in the U.S. population are living with a disability.
However, there are now a number of resources and systems available that enable disabled individuals to overcome the problem of accommodation. Their house can be redesigned with modern technology, which ensures complete safety, advantages, and enjoyment for a disabled person.
They can comfortably accommodate their remodeled house that has been specially designed, focusing on their convenience and comfort. In this guide article, the Disability Accommodation Guide, We will provide all the tips and suggestions that help you to remodel your home for you or any loved disabled person in your home.
Legality Regarding Home Remodel
First, let’s introduce you to the laws that guarantee the rights of disabled individuals. You must be aware of the requests so that you can take advantage of the rights. If you live in a rented house, in that case, your homeowner will be bound to make necessary disabled-friendly modifications in your home so that you can accommodate well in the place. The laws are explained below.
A. Fair Housing Act (FHA)
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) gives you specific rights; whether you are renting or buying a home for yourself, you can claim to make the essential modifications to your home under the Fair Housing Act. This Act has been introduced to resist discrimination in housing against disabled people.
Usually, the housing complex is not required to pay extra for the construction of accessible facilities. Still, in case you want to make some changes in your living conditions at your convenience, some additional payment may be required in such a situation. While making some changes to the house’s infrastructure, you must process keeping in mind the safety precautions.
For instance, if a four-unit multi-family housing project does not have reserved parking space available, it will have to be converted for a disabled person, and a parking space for a disabled person will have to be included in the housing project. Thanks to the FHA, you can compel your builder to provide such convenience in your house.
B. Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504
The Rehabilitation Act declares any form of discrimination against persons with disabilities prohibited. Hence, the organization and the employer in the workplace do not discriminate against people with disabilities in any way. An organization or employer must provide a disabled person with all the opportunities and services provided to an ordinary employee.
This law also applies to home remodeling. A person with a disability cannot be discriminated against when providing accommodation and must provide him with all the facilities he needs.
Financing Your Home Remodel
The expense of designing a disability-accommodating home can be overwhelming which can be impossible for an individual to manage. But fortunately, there are facilities, such as federal funding, grants, assistance programs, and loans for persons with disabilities make it easy to remodel a disabled person’s home. Some of the programs are explained underneath:
A. FHA Limited 203(k)
This program under the FHA permits homebuyers and homeowners to fund up to $35,000 in their mortgages to repair and upgrade their homes. The benefits of this program are available to those with disabilities.
B. FHA 203(k)
This program under the FHA permits home buyers and homeowners to fund their home renovations. However, it is given for specific homes that require considerable work.
C. Grants For Disabled People
Many grants are available to support the disabled and can be utilized for house redesigning. The Gary Sinise Foundation and AARP Foundation Grant Program are two of the well-known foundations that encourage disabled persons to become independent.
D. Resources For Local Finance
Many municipalities and states can come forward to help the disabled in the form of local resources. You can provide resources to support the disabled make home modifications to raise their standard of living.
E. Local Funding Resources
Many municipalities, states, and even countries have come forward to help the disabled in the form of local resources. You also provide individuals with resources to help people with disabilities make modifications to their homes to raise their standard of living.
Supplemental Resources For Elderly And People With Mobility Disabilities
Located throughout the country, ADRCs are intended to offer information and direction to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. Through the eldercare directory, you may identify your neighborhood ADRC and can get all essential information.
A. Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs)
Located throughout the country, ADRCs are intended to offer information and direction to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. Through the eldercare directory, you may identify your neighborhood ADRC and can get all essential information.
B. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA specifies standards for workplaces, treatment centers, and other public and private entities that work with persons with disabilities.It also provides information on laws that apply to such people. The ADA runs a national network for people with disabilities that provides guidance and instruction on accessibility-related concerns.
C. Area Agency On Aging
Area Agency on Aging, or AAA, is devoted to addressing the needs and worries of seniors who want to age in place in their local communities. The AAAs Area Agency on Aging and AAA have often used descriptors; therefore, your local program name may differ.
D. State Assistive Technology Program
The purpose of the national assistive technology Act was to make accessible technologies available to people with impairments of all ages. To people and families, the programme provides technology, information, and support. There are AT programmes and grants available in every state. The AT state locator can help you find your state’s programme.
E. IRS Deduction F7 Or Disabled-Related Home Improvements
People with disabilities may be eligible for a tax deduction from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for medical expenses, which may include the price of maintaining a disability. Your medical expenses can only be deducted to the extent that they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income.
Artificial limbs, hearing aids, glasses, guide dogs, phone equipment for deaf and hard of hearing persons, long-term care insurance premiums, and Braille publications are among the expenses the IRS permits you to deduct.
How To Plan To Remodel Your Home?
You should plan your remodeling project properly. There are many aspects you need to consider when redesigning your home. Safety and convenience are the two crucial things that should be considered while remodeling a home so that the renovated home can meet all the needs of a disabled person. We are presenting here some step-by-step tips to help you accomplish your home remodeling project.
A. Know Your Accessibility Needs
When it comes to remodeling your home, the first thing you need to decide is what renovations are required in order to make your home comfortable for a disabled person. Consider all the things inside and outside your home. Then, proceed with your project keeping in mind your comfort and safety.
B. Hire An Interior Designer
Employing an interior designer is very helpful when planning to remodel your home. In some matters of home renovations, the advice of a professional is beneficial. You may need a professional to assist you with setting up a new layout, obtaining the necessary permits, and other tasks, depending on the scope of the changes to be made to your home.
Look for an interior designer in your area or elsewhere who specializes in home designing and is able to accommodate any improvements you want.
C. Review Rules
Most importantly, you need to make sure that your home complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) criteria. Additionally, each city has its own set of building rules and regulations, so check the website for your area to see how it relates to your change.
If you hire a designer, they will often assist you with this process. Naturally, you have the right to make alterations to your property as a homeowner, but you must hire a municipal inspector to make sure the changes adhere to building rules.
If you are renting a home, you will need to schedule a meeting between your inspector and the landlord. You must have consciousness of your rights. The Fair Housing Act enables fair adjustments for tenants with disabilities.
D. Employ A Contractor
Your project requires a perfect contractor. Inquire for a skilled contractor and conduct interviews to select the right professional. You should work with a contractor you can trust and who has ample experience in making accessible modifications to homes.
E. Choose Proper Materials
It is crucial to select the materials appropriately. This will enable you to live independently and happily in your renovated house. So, don’t skip this thing to consider. Pay due attention to choosing the type of flooring. This is because the type of flooring can have a significant impact on safety and maneuverability.
If you are searching for non-slip surfaces on which wheelchairs can move quickly, there are two excellent alternatives, including hardwood and laminate flooring. Utilizing this sort of flooring in remodeling a home for individuals with disabilities is advisable. If you decide to follow this route, pay attention to the durability and hardness of the wood you pick.
There is a less expensive option to vinyl flooring if you want to put in water-resistant flooring in your kitchen or bathroom.It is also slip-resistant. A foam backing is also available on more expensive vinyl kinds, giving them a flexible, cushion-like feel.
Installing a treated wood ramp could be a good idea if you use a wheelchair and your home’s entrance is not at ground floor. However, you must also utilise superior materials for this.
F. Choose Technology
You also need to adapt your home technology to suit your needs. For instance, if you have hearing loss, there is a specific technology that can connect your phone to the lighting system. When choosing modern technology, a few specific categories should be taken into account.
- Use lighting technology that turns on and off when you clap. This system enables you to avoid approaching the switch if maneuvering is more complicated.
- If your countertops are low, reaching the faucet can be challenging. In that case, activate the sensor tap system. A touchless system will be helpful for you.
- Use an intercom. An intercom will provide immediate contact without the need to move if you share a home with someone.
- Adding additional lighting to the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and corridor areas will make moving around more straightforward for people who are blind.
- Identifying a hazardous smell, like smoke, may be challenging if your sense of smell is impaired. Hence, in the circumstances, adding additional smoke detectors to various locations of your house will be helpful for you.
- It might be challenging to determine when the water is too hot for the skin of people who cannot feel their legs. Installing an anti-scalding valve will be good in this situation. An anti-scald valve will restrict the water temperature.
Remodeling Your Home Room-by-Room
When remodeling your home, focus on every room. It is necessary to make improvements in every room of the house to increase the comfort while living in the house for the disabled person. You can follow the rules set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for your private home, which will help make your home more accessible. But it is not mandatory. To remodel a house by the room, here are some valuable tips.
A. Overall Accessibility
1. Access Ramp:
The door in many houses is up multiple flights of steps. To make it simpler for wheelchairs to enter and exit your home if you also use such stairs to enter the door, you may construct an access ramp made of wood or aluminium.
2. Install Lever-Style Door Knobs Or Automatic Doors:
You can also consider replacing the door or door handle to make it easier to enter your home. Automatic doors or lever-style door handles are an excellent choice to make an easy entry into your home or room.
3. Use Rubber Mats To Cover Uneven Thresholds:
Rubber mats are a great choice for covering any uneven surfaces between rooms.
4. Place Non-Slip Mats In Dripping Areas:
To avoid inadvertent falls, place anti-slip mats in moist places such as the bathroom, mudroom, kitchen, etc.
5. Install The Controls And Switches At A Low Height:
If you’re in a wheelchair, reaching the thermostat or light switches might be challenging. Hence, consider low-mounted light switches that ensure effortless control of the buttons.
6. In Case The Doors Are Too Narrow, Remove Them From The Hinges:
If the doors in your house are too small on the inside, remove them from their hinges. It has been noted that occasionally, despite the doors’ width being adequate for wheelchair access, the places where the doors are fastened are small, making it challenging for a wheelchair to enter the space.
7. Cables And Cords Should Be Cut Off From Walked Areas:
The cables in a wheelchair can easily tangle, or they can become dangerous when moving with a wheelchair. Therefore, move wires and cables out of the path. They should be put on the baseboard.
8. Take Out Any Rugs Or Other Obstacles:
Rugs should not be used in a wheelchair-accessible home, although they add an aesthetic element to your home floor. Therefore, to make moving the wheelchair convenient, remove all the rugs that have been put in place at the place of your home.
9. Stair-Free Entrance:
The interior will require one to two stairs even if your exterior door is at ground level. So, if you need to use a wheelchair to go up two stairs, install a small ramp for easier access to the wheelchair.
10. Turnaround Areas:
If your bathroom and corridor are wheelchair accessible, it can be conveniently arranged to take the wheelchair to the bathroom. Before planning the layout, make sure your wheelchair can be turned in each direction.
11. Widen Doorways:
The width of the door must be at least 32 inches for the wheelchair to go through. But doors are typically 30 inches or less wide. So, your home doors will have to be wheelchair adapted.
1. Accessible Closet Storage And Low Closet Rods:
For a disabled person, having fewer closet rods is essential for easy storage access. Therefore, when designing a closet, it would be better to bring all the storage closer to the floor.
2. Accessible Dresser:
If your bedroom wardrobe space is limited, choose a tall dresser instead of a higher one for an accessible dresser.
3. Bed Height Around 20–23 Inches:
Make sure it’s easy to access and exit your bed by paying attention to its peak of 20-33 inches.
4. Direct Bathroom Access:
If you have limited mobility, it is better to arrange for direct bathroom access for quick access from the bedroom to the bathroom.
5. Reinforced Sealings For Lifting Equipment:
Before installing a lifting system, you need to make sure that the ceiling is implemented if you need lifting equipment.
1. Hose faucet in the sink: Use a hose faucet. It makes it simple to reach and move the tap to your desired place.
2. Lever-handle valves in the sink: Install lever-handle valves in your kitchen. It makes it simpler to change the water’s flow and temperature settings.
3. Round edges to prevent injuries: Don’t ignore the possibility of falling in the kitchen. Hence, you should round off any sharp corners to avoid injuries if there are any falls.
4. Shallow-basin sink: Sink with a shallow basin. It will make it simple for you to put and remove dishes from the bottom.
5. Side-by-side refrigerator-freezer: You can use a side-by-side refrigerator. These kinds of refrigerators create easy access to the fridge for a disabled person.
6. Wheelchair-accessible countertops and cabinets:Make sure your kitchen countertops and cabinets are wheelchair-accessible. This is a significant modification that should be considered in order to make the home wheelchair accessible.
D. Living Room
1. Cover Or Hide Cords:
Cover or bury cables along baseboards or under furniture. Since there is a possibility of stumbling upon a disabled wire, it is essential to adopt proper measures to avoid it. In the process of home remodeling, this is something to be considered.
2. Cover Sharp Corners:
Cover the sharp edges of any material in your living room. Investing in soft furniture is better; otherwise, cover up the sharp edges to avoid any injuries.
3. Space Furniture Far Apart:
Put your furniture apart so you can move around without difficulty in a wheelchair.
1. Easy-Access Storage:
Easy-access storage is a must in the bathroom. So, you can consider arranging storage close to the floor as a new option instead of keeping bathroom accessories behind the bathroom’s vanity mirror.
2. Easy-Access And Heightened Toilets:
While choosing the bathroom, consider its height. Every person has different needs. If you are a wheelchair user, the elevated toilet seat will be better for you.
3. Hand Grips And Grab Bars:
Use hand grips and grab bars. These accessories provide stability in the shower or bathtub. They are found in different options; pick your preferred product.
4. Handicapped-Accessible Showers With Seats:
Install showers in the bathroom that have a seat and are wheelchair accessible. To make them accessible, the showers should have a large opening and no lip.
5. Height-Adjustable Shower Heads:
Height-adjustable shower heads are a great option you can consider. You can adjust it in height to accommodate different body positions and angles.
6. Roll Under Sinks:
Many modern bathroom vanities have cupboards at the bottom, but these may not be accessible to people in a wheelchair. That’s why it would be best to install a vanity that lets you roll under with a minimum of 28 inches between the floor and the end of the sink.
7. Transfer Benches Or Sliding Chairs:
Transfer benches or sliding shower chairs will be best for people with limited mobility. These chairs offer a more straightforward method of entering the shower.
8. Walk-In Tubs:
If you have trouble stepping on the wall of the bathtub when taking a shower, you can think about installing a low-step bathtub with a water-locked door.
9. Weighted Shower Curtain And Water Retainer:
Water will usually flow to the floor if you have a handicap-accessible shower. Use weighted shower curtains and water retainers to keep the bathroom floor dry.
F. Laundry Room
1. Accessible Appliances:
Digital displays, touch activation, and loud alerts are all accessible device features. Another way to make laundry more accessible is to use a front loader, which will be easier for the disabled to access from a seated position.
2. Easy-To-Access Area:
People who use mobility aids should be able to move quickly. Washing machines should have direct access and should be at a suitable height. If the washing machine is kept in a closet, you may consider closing the doors for easier access.
3. Accessible Laundry Accessories:
For those with mobility issues, there is laundry equipment that can make the laundry process more straightforward—for example, retractable clothespins, moveable laundry carts, and movable ironing boards. Disabled persons using these accessories easily accomplish their laundry work.
4. Pull-Out Shelves:
The laundry room also has this accessible feature. Pull-out brackets can be placed at a lower height in a smaller space, like a laundry room, easier to access with one hand.
G. Hallways And Stairs
1. Additional Railings In The Hallways:
You can install other barriers in your long hall to maintain the stability of the body while moving from one room to another.
2. Small Ramps For 1-2 Step-Ups:
You can add smaller ones, making it easier to navigate floors in homes with one or two steps between rooms.
If climbing stairs is a problem for you, put a stairlift that will allow you to use a wheelchair already fitted.
H. Home Exterior
1. Automatic garage door openers:
To modify your home exterior, you can install an automatic garage door opener. It lets you open your garage with remote control.
2. Designate parking areas:
Ensure a convenient place to park on your exterior.
3. Cover uneven or cracked driveway and walkways:
Keep checking your driveway or walkway. In case your driveway or walkway has cracks or holes, fix them as soon as possible to prevent an unexpected hazard.
4. Make house number prominent:
Make sure your house number is visible from the outside, so there is no problem finding the house number in case of emergency.
5. Motion-detecting lights:
install motion-detection lights to make your lifestyle easier, so you don’t have to face the hassle while unlocking your door
6. Wheelchair ramp:
Install wooden or aluminum ramps in case you intend to make your home handicap accessible.
I. Garage, Outdoors And Entries
1. Keeping plants trimmed and walkways clear:
Maintaining trimmed plants and clear walkways is important because congested sidewalks can be problematic for people using mobility aids.
Having handrails near exterior stairs and doors can help seniors reduce the risk of falls while walking outside and help maintain their balance.
3. Widen Paths:
Use mobility aids to navigate outdoor areas more easily. It may also be straightforward for caregivers to help older adults.
Adding more outdoor lighting increases outdoor visibility. Disabled people who have night vision problems may be able to spend more time in their outdoor setting without high exposure because of the increased illumination.
5. Patch concrete:
Uneven concrete is a significant factor that can cause falls for seniors and anyone with mobility issues. Extensive cracks can become a hazard for the mobility aid to become stuck. Therefore access to driveways, garages, and patios should all be improved.
6. Intelligent security systems:
These great systems often offer both visual and audible alarms. It is perfect for senior citizens having vision problems.While intelligent security systems can often be operated remotely, it can also be easy to adjust the setting for the disabled.
7. Timer systems:
This is a good arrangement for people with mobility issues to find helpful when scheduling outdoor systems like lighting or sprinklers. Seniors and those with mobility difficulties will be free to worry about shutting down a system at an inaccessible altitude.
Helpful Modifications For Children With Disabilities
Undoubtedly, if your child is disabled, consider consulting with your child’s physical therapist for advice on equipment changes and home adaptations. The therapist will help you decide which changes will most benefit your child. Well, we are presenting some helpful modifications for your child in your home.
1. Lowering the light switch and safety keypad so your child can reach them.
2. Installing hard flooring or low pile carpeting for easy navigation for your child.
3. Reducing countertops
4. Walk-in shower or bathtub
5. Widening the hallway
6. Making bedroom wardrobe accessible by minimizing hanging rods and shelves
7. Adding storage solutions to medical supplies
8. Installing additional outlets to power medical equipment
9. Consider installing a generator to power life-sustaining medical equipment.
Valuable Tips And Modifications For Children With Sensory Issues
Autism, spectrum disorders, and sensory processing disorders are some of the diseases that impact an increasing number of children today and cause sensory difficulties. Following are some tips to make your home comfortable for your child with sensory issues
1. Remove Fluorescent Lighting
Remove the fluorescent lighting of the house. This intense light can bother a child with a sensory disability. Instead, focus on making adjustments that increase the amount of natural light entering the home and use soft lighting throughout
2. Affix Limited Things To The Walls
Do not affix too many things to the walls. Keep only a few things sticking to the walls. A child with sensory issues may become overstimulated by too many objects on the walls, or he may have problems. Keep the home away from a bustling setting that can be challenging for a child with sensory disorders and may affect the order in the house.
3. Consider Color
Pay close attention to the colors your child likes. Use children’s favorite colors in the painting of the house. Also, accentuate your home areas with some colors you want your child to notice. Avoid specific colors in your home if your child is allergic to them.
4. Noise-Reducing Material
It would be better for your kids to use noise-reducing material. These can be used in rooms in the house where your child spends a lot of time. Consider the amount of traffic and outside noise entering the home as your child may be sensitive to noise.
5. Special Playroom
Create a special playroom for your child. Since treatments are essential for children with sensory difficulties, it may be beneficial for children to spend some time playing activities in a dedicated playroom whenever possible.
How Much Does A Mobility Renovation Cost?
The cost of renovations varies according to the renovation options that you opt for. Whenever you remodel your home, always adhere to the highest quality materials and exemplary craftsmanship standards by companies that install disability, mobility, or customization products.
The cost of home modification will be determined by taking into account all these factors, what kind of work will be done in your home, and how successful it will be in meeting your needs. Mechanical lifting systems such as stairlifts and home lifts can cost more than minor changes such as building ramps and grab rails.
For example, a ladder can cost anywhere from £1200 for a straight model to £4995 for a curved one. The cost of a home lift can range from £10,000 to £28,000. The quality and design of the product are significant factors that can change the price range of the product.
Bathroom customization, such as converting a bathroom with a walk-in shower, costs between £1500 to £5000; the price of a complete bathroom renovation and wet room varies widely depending on the amenities chosen and the quality of the products used.
The same would apply to the kitchen. Regarding the kitchen, how much and how the kitchen has to be renovated, depending on all these, the renovation cost will be determined. Finding a company to manage all your necessities for home mobility renovation can be daunting. For this, the company can charge more than £20,000.
In short, people will have different adaptation needs depending on their immediate and or potential future personal circumstances. However, your home should be a model that ensures safety and a peaceful environment.
Car Modifications For People With Disabilities
You can find a wealth of information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), to help you customize your new car. These upgrades may cost anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000 or more.
Undoubtedly, your choice of car accessories will significantly impact this. Swivel seats, which are relatively inexpensive compared to other adjustments like hand controls that let you drive, can make a significant difference.
Everything depends on your disability and what you require in order to operate the car properly. Thanks to these adaptations, your disability does not have to prevent you from enjoying the freedom of driving your vehicle.
Find The Right Home Modifications
Every human’s physical strength and mobility decline over age. Humans grow more prone to chronic illness. And many once-fundamental aspects of our home have become problematic. Older adults and people with mobility frequently need house adaptations to maintain their independence.
Both the construction of the home and the incorporation of assistive technology are included in these home changes for the elderly or disabled. You’ll wish to offer a variety of options for your project. Apply technology that gives your modern home an added advantage.
People with disabilities require an environment in their homes where they can live happily, peacefully, and safely despite physical obstacles.
Being comfortable is the basic need of every person. Any human being will find it very difficult to adjust to that house, especially if the disabled person does not get a residence according to his situation. That’s why modifications in the place are crucial according to the needs of the disabled. I hope our guide will be helpful for you in remodelling your home, which will provide you with the utmost comfort.