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Lifestyle & General Interest

Home Modifications for Accessibility


As individuals age, the need for accessibility and safety in their home environment increases. According to a National Council on Aging report, falls are one of the leading causes of injury among older adults — with 36 million falls reported each year, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. Additionally, about 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries, with one out of every five falls causing an injury such as a broken bone or head trauma.

These findings emphasize the importance of creating an accessible and safe living environment for those with limited mobility. Most homes can be made safer and more accessible for mobility aids like wheelchairs with some basic modifications. However, more advanced renovations may sometimes be necessary — particularly as you age.

To help improve your quality of life and ensure you stay safe in your home, here are 10 of the best home modifications for individuals with limited mobility.

Basic Modifications for Adaptability

It can be challenging to make your home fully accessible if you or your family members have limited mobility. Fortunately, you can make some relatively simple modifications to improve the safety and adaptability of your home environment.

These may include simple DIY projects or may involve a professional installation. Home improvement assistance for medically necessary home adaptions may also be available.

Wedge Ramps

Wedge or threshold ramp are a great way to make doorways and other obstacles easier to navigate when you have limited mobility. These ramps are designed to be placed on the edges of doors, raised landings, or steps to create a smooth transition that allows for bedding, carts, and wheelchairs to pass through more easily. The ramp angle is usually adjustable so it can adapt to different heights and handle heavier loads.

Wedge ramps are also a safer option due to their gradual design, as they minimize tripping hazards that may be present with stairs or other raised landings. You can install these ramps indoors and outdoors. Choose from materials like rubber, aluminum, or plastic, depending on your budget and preference.

Wheelchair Ramps

Wheelchair ramps provide access for people with limited mobility and are a great way to make your home more accessible for all. Depending on your needs, there are different types of ramps and installation tips to consider when looking for the best solution.

  • Portable wheelchair ramps may be the ideal option if you need a quick and easy setup — usually made from lightweight materials like aluminum, these ramps can easily fold up and be moved from one space to another.
  • Modular wheelchair ramps offer a more permanent solution as they have sections that fit together for extra stability. These ramp floors offer improved safety over lighter models when installed correctly due to their increased weight capacity.

When it comes to installation, keep in mind that you should always use anchors or guardrails when setting up wheelchair ramps outdoors to prevent accidents or injury. Additionally, ensure the surface is free of debris and dirt before putting down the ramp so that traction is maximized during use.

Railings and Grab Bars

Railings and grab bars are essential to creating a safe environment for those with limited mobility. Railings come in many different shapes and sizes and can be installed on stairs, sidewalks, or any other area with a drop-off in height. These provide support and stability while walking or going up or down stairs, making them great for people with limited mobility.

Grab bars are also an important safety feature for bathrooms and showers — they can assist you with getting in or out of the tub/shower and provide support when standing or sitting.

When choosing a grab bar, look for one designed to handle an adult’s weight and that offers a secure mount. Make sure to install it at an appropriate height according to your needs — usually, around 34 inches from the floor is recommended.

Non-slip Floors

As people age, the risk of falls increases significantly, one in four older adults report falling every year, and those who have already fallen once or twice as likely to fall again — making it essential to create a safe and slip-resistant environment in homes. Non-slip flooring is one of the best safety measures to prevent dangerous slips and falls.

There are many options for non-slip floorings, such as adding mats or coatings and getting all-new floors. Mats can help reduce slipping by providing extra traction and cushioning for feet, while coatings provide an additional layer of protection without replacing the entire surface.


Enhanced lighting can benefit many people, especially those with limited mobility. Additionally, good home lighting can make a difference by reducing fatigue, improving safety, and providing comfort.

When it comes to achieving enhanced lighting in the home, there are several ways you can go about it:

  • Installing higher-wattage bulbs or different types of bulbs; for example, LED bulbs, which increase brightness without drastically changing the look of your existing fixtures.
  • Adding lighting to specific areas can help direct attention and provide focus on important tasks like reading or using the stairs.
  • Task-specific lamps or under-cabinet lights are great solutions for creating localized illumination in any space.

Bed Accommodations

The right equipment and accommodations for your bed can make a world of difference. Items such as overbed tables, special mattresses, and other accessories tailored to specific needs provide much-needed comfort and convenience.

Overbed tables can help individuals who spend a lot of time in bed by providing them with a surface on which to do activities like reading or eating. Special mattresses are designed to reduce bedsores and improve circulation while providing an optimal sleeping experience.

When it comes to beds and room accessories, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Therefore, it’s essential to determine what type of modifications or additional equipment will work best for your needs.

More Advanced Modifications for Accessibility

Alongside the modifications already discussed, several more advanced modifications can greatly improve your home’s accessibility while providing convenience and comfort. Though they may require more time and effort to install, these features can make all the difference.

Stair Lifts

One of the most common modifications for those with limited mobility is to install a stair lift. These motorized chairs are designed to traverse up and down stairs safely and provide an easy way to access different levels of a home. When looking into stair lifts, find one that best suits your needs — some models come with features such as swivel seats, adjustable armrests, and automatic sensors to ensure safe operation.

Bathroom Renovations

For those with limited mobility, renovating for bathroom safety can be a great way to improve accessibility. To do so, you could:

  • Install grab bars near the bathtub, toilet, or shower for added stability.
  • Replace door handles with lever handles that are easier to use.
  • Replace faucets with motion sensors or automatic shut-off valves.
  • Consider shower benches and chairs to make bathing more comfortable.
  • Install adjustable handheld showers or separate tubs and showers for ease of use.
  • Consider replacing your existing toilet by adding a bidet or an elevated bowl for easier access.

By following these guidelines, you can create a safe and accessible bathroom.

Kitchen Renovations

Kitchen renovations can be a great way to increase safety and convenience. Here are some recommended renovations:

  • Install adjustable or lowered countertops and sinks for ease of use.
  • Replace traditional cabinet handles with lever-style handles that are easier to grip.
  • Add drawers or pull-outs to existing cabinets for easier access.
  • Upgrade your refrigerator and stovetop to models easier to open and close.
  • Consider installing an electric tilt table, which provides a safe way to transfer food from the kitchen to the dining area without lifting heavy pots and pans.

These modifications help create an accessible and comfortable kitchen environment.

Widening Doorways

Widening entryways and installing the right doors are necessary to make a home accessible. Wider doorways allow enough space for wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility aids to move through easily.

When selecting a door, look for one that is easy to open and provides ample clearance. This may include a pocket door, an automated barn-style door, or an outward-swinging French patio door. These types of doors provide ample space while still functioning as regular doors, making them ideal for accessibility purposes.

Miscellaneous Modifications

To complete your home renovations for increased mobility, several smaller modifications can go a long way:

  • Install light switches that are low enough to be reached in a seated position or with a cane.
  • Add shelves that are easy to reach without having to strain or stretch.
  • Install a doorbell and mailbox that are easily reachable.
  • Adjust the height of closet rods, shelves, and drawers so they can be reached while seated or standing.

Beyond these modifications, there are even more options to help make your home accessible and comfortable. With a little research and effort, you can create the perfect home for yourself or anyone with limited mobility.

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