Things to Know When Remodeling for Accessibility:
The Fundamentals

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As we age, we often find ourselves unable to perform tasks as well as we used to. Some deal with this situation by moving into assisted living homes; yet, others would still like to enjoy the comforts of their home, and instead opt to make modifications to their living environment in order to continue a safe and independent life.

The Necessity of Remodeling
When considering remodeling for accessibility, one of the few questions that individuals find themselves asking is: how do I know if I need to remodel? And if I do, how can I figure out how many modifications I need to make?

These are both great questions, and the best way to answer them is to first understand the purpose of modifications. Generally, home modifications are only necessary if they aid in independence and prevent accidents from occurring. For example, new wheelchair users might install a ramp in replace of steps, or widen some of their narrow hallways.

Another necessary aspect of remodeling is the individual’s desire to stay at home. According to an AARP survey, 82% of older Americans said that they would prefer to live at home for as long as possible, even if they needed help caring for themselves. Therefore, home modifications can provide individuals with the desired comfort and freedom of living at home, all the while creating a safer and functional living environment in the process.

How to Identify Potential Modifications
Accessibility modifications can range from simple alterations, such as installing automatic lighting, to advanced mechanisms, such as portable lifts. Yet, advanced mechanisms are not always necessary, for accessibility modifications should only be implemented if they aid in the improvement of overall daily life.

Considering this, potential modifications are often identified through functional difficulties, such as an inability to properly bathe. Thus, in order to determine which modifications are right for you or your loved one, it is best to consider an area’s basic use. Using a bathroom as an example, potential modifications may be larger, easier-to-turn facet knobs, or a handicap accessible shower system. Essentially, modifications should make.

Payment Options
Remodeling for accessibility is often a minor project, with prices ranging from around $150 - $2,000. Yet, if considering a larger home renovation, there are a variety of payment options that individuals can explore.

For example, some types of home modifications that qualify under Medicare or Medicaid funds. Also, many cities have pre-established development grants which are available for local senior citizens. You can call your local town hall to find out if your city offers some of these grants.

Overall, home modifications can be an essential aspect of aging with grace, safety, and comfort. Yet remember, the best home modifications should provide aid and comfort, not confusion and difficulties. Thus, in order to make sure you aren’t over spending, make sure you only implementing the home modifications that you truly need.

Sources:
Eldercare.gov, AARP, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Resources/Factsheets/Home_Modifications.aspx
http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/il/four_walls.pdf
http://gero.usc.edu/nrcshhm/resources/fs_home_mod.pdf