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Home Modification

Where to begin

Before you make home modifications, you should evaluate your current and future needs by going through your home room-by-room and answering a series of questions to highlight where changes might be made. Several checklists are available to help you conduct this review. The National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications is a good place to start. Go to the center’s website at and click on the link to the “Safety Checklist and Assessment Instrument.”

In addition, Rebuilding Together, Inc. has an excellent home modification checklist at

You can begin your survey by examining each area of your home and asking the following questions:

Appliances, Kitchen, Bathroom

  • Are cabinet doorknobs easy to use?
  • Are stove controls easy to use and clearly marked?
  • Are faucets easy to use?
  • Are there grab bars where needed?
  • Are all appliances and utensils conveniently and safely located?
  • Can the oven and refrigerator be opened easily?
  • Can you sit down while working?
  • Can you get into and out of the bathtub or shower easily?
  • Is the kitchen counter height and depth comfortable for you?
  • Is the water temperature regulated to prevent scalding or burning?
  • Would you benefit from having convenience items, such as a handheld showerhead, a garbage disposal, or a trash compactor?

Closets, Storage Spaces

  • Are your closets and storage areas conveniently located?
  • Are your closet shelves too high?
  • Can you reach items in the closet easily?
  • Do you have enough storage space?
  • Have you gotten the maximum use out of the storage space you have, including saving space with special closet shelf systems and other products?

Doors, Windows

  • Are your doors and windows easy to open and close?
  • Are your door locks sturdy and easy to operate?
  • Are your doors wide enough to accommodate a walker or wheelchair?
  • Do your doors have peepholes for viewing

Driveway, Garage

  • Does your garage door have an automatic opener?
  • Is your parking space always available?
  • Is your parking space close to the entrance of your home?

Electrical Outlets, Switches, Safety Devices

  • Are light or power switches easy to turn on and off?
  • Are electrical outlets easy to reach?
  • Are the electrical outlets properly grounded to prevent shocks?
  • Are your extension cords in good condition?
  • Can you hear the doorbell in every part of the house?
  • Do you have smoke detectors throughout your home?
  • Do you have an alarm system?
  • Is the telephone readily available for emergencies?
  • Would you benefit from having an assistive device to make it easier to hear and talk on the telephone?


  • Are all of the floors in your home on the same level? • Are steps up and down marked in some way?
  • Are all floor surfaces safe and covered with non-slip or non-skid materials?
  • Do you have scatter rugs or doormats that could be hazardous?

Hallways, Steps, Stairways

  • Are hallways and stairs in good condition?
  • Do all of your hallways and stairs have smooth, safe surfaces?
  • Do your stairs have steps that are big enough for your whole foot?
  • Do you have handrails on both sides of the stairway?
  • Are your stair rails wide enough for you to grasp them securely?
  • Would you benefit from building a ramp to replace the stairs or steps inside or outside of your home?

Lighting, Ventilation

  • Do you have night lights where they are needed?
  • Is the lighting in each room sufficient for the use of the room?
  • Is the lighting bright enough to ensure safety?
  • Is each room well-ventilated with good air circulation?

Once you have explored all the areas of your home that could benefit from remodeling, you might make a list of potential problems and possible solutions.

Information compliments of Eldercare and the Department of Health and Human Services. Call the Eldercare Locator toll-free at 1-800-677-1116 or e-mail the service at eMail the Eldercare Locator.