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Essential Home Modifications for Seniors and People with Disabilities

Handicap-accessible building plans or universal building design is an architectural principle that makes a structure inclusive of individuals with disabilities or special needs. This means designing a space to accommodate the mobility needs of people with physical disabilities. In business establishments, owners hire a commercial contractor to make their building more wheelchair-friendly and provide ease and comfort for customers with movement limitations.

Aside from commercial buildings, you can also make your home handicapped accessible. This works for homeowners with physical disabilities or living with a senior or a family member with mobility issues. Home modifications based on accessibility standards can make a huge difference to a person with a disability when providing comfort and better ease of movement.

While your home is supposed to make you feel safe and protected, safety hazards can happen, such as falls, slips, drowning, and other fatal accidents. The situation is even worse for seniors and people with disabilities because their movement limitations increase the risks of these safety hazards.

Making a home more accessible can go a long way in improving the lives of its occupants, especially for those who require accessible accommodations. In this article, we’ll talk about the must-haves of a handicap-accessible home and ensure the safety of your loved one.


Traditional doorways are the most common barrier for people with disabilities. Most of them aren’t large enough to fit a wheelchair, limiting the occupant’s ability to explore other house rooms.

There are plenty of ways to alter doorways and make them wheelchair-friendly. You can remove the trim, extend the doorway, and install sliding doors to make more space. For the threshold, make sure it has rounded ages and won’t exceed one-half inch (13 mm). High thresholds can cause accidents for people using canes or walkers.


An accessible bathroom is an important part of every handicap-accessible home. This means the bathroom should be safe enough for seniors or people with mobility issues.

One example is replacing the bathtub with a shower. Although there are walk-in tubs, a wheelchair can’t move around in them. On the other hand, showers are perfect for people with limited mobility and those in wheelchairs. Modify the shower by including a no-slip chair and a hand-held showerhead so the person can bathe themselves while seated.

The safest option for sink or shower faucets is to adjust the water to 120° Fahrenheit or 48.8° Celsius to prevent scalding and keep the water at a consistent temperature. When picking a faucet, you can choose between push-type, electronically-controlled, or lever-operated options.

To ensure stability, include grab bars in the bathing area and around the walls of the toilet. Grab bars should handle at least 250 lbs or 113 kg of force or stress. A great tip is to install the bars on reinforced walls to make sure the grab bar won’t fall off. You can also install a taller toilet so the user can easily transfer from the wheelchair to the toilet. But make sure to provide enough space around the sink and toilet for the wheelchair.


Floor space is also a critical consideration for the kitchen. The cooking ranges and kitchen sink should share the same floor area to allow the wheelchair user to move around. Another tip is to install a multi-level countertop so that the person can use it whether they are standing or seated.

Modern kitchen appliances now offer models with accessible designs. Instead of a refrigerator with a top freezer, an ideal option is a side-by-side option. Ranges with accessible front controls are perfect for wheelchair users, but they pose a safety risk if you’re living with children. For the visually impaired, a cooking range with color-contrasted touch control is a fitting choice.


Hallways with clear passageways are vital to a handicap-accessible living space. They should be no less than 36 inches so any wheelchair user can turn around easily. If there are stairs in the house, the tread or the horizontal parts should be 11 inches wide with rounded edges. Handrails are also a must for added stability. Also, don’t forget to install handrails on either side of the stairs.

Whether you’re living with a senior or a person with a disability, a handicap-accessible home is a solution to their accommodation issues. It’s not too late to make modifications to your home since there are many ways to make it comfortable, accessible, and user-friendly. Your home plays a critical role in enhancing the quality of your life, so make it a better place for those who live in it.

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