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Home Modification

Updated on March 11, 2024
Article byNanditha Saravanakumar
Edited byShreya Bansal
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Home Modification?

Home modification refers to alter

ations made to certain features or amenities that primarily support disabled or older people to move in and around their homes. It allows disabled and elderly individuals to claim minimal assistance from others and access facilities at their homes. Also, it can be indoor or outdoor.

HOME MODIFICATION

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Home modifications tailored to such individuals’ medical and physical needs make their daily lives easier. The financing options are made accessible to the people, depending on how expensive their entire modification process is. Many federal rules govern these modifications and offer support to individuals requiring them through loans, special laws, concessions, etc. These regulations serve as a framework for the design and construction process, providing guidelines on accessibility, safety features, and overall functionality.

Key Takeaways

  • Home modifications for disabled and elderly persons are alterations or additions to residential amenities that improve accessibility, safety, and comfort for such individuals.
  • These modifications have physical, medical, and health benefits. But beyond that, they also contribute to the mental health of individuals who do not have to rely on others for basic activities and moving around their homes. It reduces their independence and makes them confident.
  • Home modifications also refer to renovations people make to their homes that increase comfort, luxury, and aesthetic beauty.

How Does A Home Modification Work?

Home modifications are alterations aimed at supporting the elderly and disabled people. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers detailed guidelines that specifically address the requirements for implementing modifications to accommodate individuals with disabilities. These guidelines are crucial in ensuring the necessary measures are taken to enhance accessibility and support for disabled individuals.

An appropriate home modification assessment conducted by an occupational therapist helps identify and understand the specific alterations and additions that will suit an individual and their disability or illness. These professionals also help disabled persons, seniors, or family members finance these modifications.

Many governments take serious responsibility for supporting individuals with disabilities and making their lives easier. The State-Wide Equipment Program (SWEP) in Australia and the Fair Housing and Amendments Act (FHAA) in the United States are examples of government schemes supporting home alterations.

Home modification loans the government provides to deserving individuals are another option for those wishing to install support equipment, buy specialized devices, fit ramps, etc. These are expensive equipment and may only be affordable to some. Government loans will be offered at lower interest rates. These individuals might also be eligible for concessions and other incentives.

That said, home modifications also refer to renovations made by individuals to increase their homes’ amenities and aesthetic beauty. These are done to add luxury and comfort features. Home modification loans are also available for these purposes. But the interest rates are higher, and the terms are stricter.

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Checklist

Here’s the checklist to be used in a home modification assessment. There is a list of alterations allowed and to abide by when it comes to securing a loan for the modification purpose. The checklist contains all possible modifications that can be made to certain parts of a home.

  1. Bathroom
    • Walk-in tubs
    • Roll under sinks
    • Heightened toilets
    • Easy access showers with seats
    • Sliding chairs
    • Grab bars
    • Weighted shower curtain
    • Easy access storage
    • Non-slip bathtub strips
    • Anti-slip mats
  1. Bedroom
    • Easy access storage
    • Easy access dresser
    • Low closet handles
    • Increased bed height
    • Bed-side telephone and lamp 
    • Direct access to the bathroom
    • Clear pathway across the room
  1. Kitchen
    • Shallow-basin sink
    • Round counter edges 
    • Hose faucet and lever-handle valves in the sink
    • Easy access to countertops and cabinet
    • Rubber-backed mats
    • Long-handled dustpan/ broom
    • Large-sized controls through vision support organizations
  1. Other Home Interiors
    • Increase lighting across rooms and passageways
    • Cover sharp corners
    • Adjust furniture to provide space 
    • Hand grips and grab bars
    • Stairlift 
    • Small ramps
    • Wide doorways
    • Low-mounted switches and controls
    • Automatic doors
    • Step-free entryway
  1. Home Exterior
    • Motion-sensor lights
    • Wheelchair ramp
    • Even driveways and walkways
    • Automatic gate/ garage door
    • No step, no strip thresholds
    • Install peepholes in doors

Examples

Let’s discuss a few examples of the concept.

Example #1

Sean is a young adventurer who had an accident while he was paragliding. Consequently, he was paralyzed waist down and had to rely on his wheelchair to mobilize. Sean’s parents decided to use his insurance claim to modify their house to help him move around quickly and safely.

As a first step, they shifted his room to the ground floor. They re-arranged the furniture in the living room and passageways to increase the space. They fitted handrails in his bedroom and bathroom. They also replaced steps with ramps. It helped Sean to boost his confidence.

Example #2

Fall risk is an issue senior citizens face. Forbes Health reported that 250,000 people fall in their bathrooms annually. Stairs and the living room are other common areas where people fall. In 2019, falls were the primary cause of injury in senior citizens over 65 years of age. Besides physical and health factors, the psychological effects of a fall can be devastating.

Here’s how to minimize fall risk. Mental health is essential. Memory loss and cognitive issues increase fall risk. Senior citizens should stay focused, manage medications, stay hydrated, maintain a balanced diet, be physically active, and do check-ups regularly.

Modifications for senior citizens that minimize fall risk include sufficient lighting and adequate space to roam around the house, adding handrails to stairs or using wheelchair ramps, installing grab bars, rubber-backed mats, etc.

Benefits

These are the advantages of home modifications for elderly and disabled people.

  1. Self-sufficiency: Often, senior citizens and persons with disabilities have to rely on family members or home health nurses to move around the house, go to the restroom, and get things done. The individuals will only require assistance with additional features like grab bars and safety rails.
  2. Psychological effect: Apart from the physical and medical support, modifications to residential features will reduce the individual’s mental toll. It will instill confidence and motivate them.
  3. Safety: Safety features and accessories will help the elderly and disabled people to move without getting hurt. Especially given their existing condition, any more injuries or pain will exhaust them more.
  4. Accessibility: Modifications such as hand grabs, low closet handles, etc., will make it easier for individuals to move on with their daily activities. It will help them live their lives despite their disability and age. It will enhance their quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can I get a free home modification?

Disabled persons and senior citizens can receive financial assistance in modifying their homes according to their requirements. The government, local agencies, and private institutes introduce many programs to support these individuals. For instance, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are options the U.S. government provides. Veterans have other specialized programs.

2. Does Medicare cover home modifications?

No. Basic Medicare and Medicaid Services do not cover home alterations or improvements for elderly and disabled persons. However, other equipment, such as wheelchairs, are covered under these services. Further, Medicare Advantage Plan has more options for these individuals.

3. Are home modifications for disability tax deductible?

Yes. Disabled individuals and senior citizens can claim tax deductions under the Home Improvement Medical Expense Deduction. However, taxpayers must study the rules and procedures before applying these deductions regarding what qualifies and under what scenario.

This article has been a guide to What Is A Home Modification. Here, we explain the concept along with its examples, checklist, and benefits. You may also find some useful articles here –

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