”Home modification” is a term that refers to making physical changes to a home to accommodate a handicapped or injured person living in the home. This may involve building wheelchair ramps to the front door, installing stability bars in showers and near toilets, or even lowering countertops to accommodate people in wheelchairs. Home modification is intended to make daily activities possible for people living with a handicap, and the modifications made will depend entirely on the type of handicap the person is living with. A person who is blind, for example, will need different modifications to a home than a person who is bound to a wheelchair.
One of the most common home modification projects is fall prevention, meant to keep elderly people from falling in the home. Elderly people who are susceptible to falls are likely to incur severe injuries that may become life-threatening. Health care professionals and even some private companies can be hired to come into the home to do a home modification analysis that will help prevent falls. This may include installing hand rails, removing throw rugs, installing grip paper on floors, or even installing elevator systems in stairways. Fall prevention does not always necessarily mean modifying the home substantially; it may simply involve making the existing home safer by removing items that may cause a fall or moving furniture that may obstruct a clear path from one part of the house to another.
More involved home modification tasks involve building structures or even changing the layout of a home. Building wheelchair ramps, for example, can be a significant undertaking, both in effort and cost. Making a home wheelchair accessible is often costly and difficult, as narrow doorways may need to be widened, stairways may need to be modified with ramps, and countertops and tables may need to be lowered to accommodate the lower height of a wheelchair-bound person. Bathrooms will need particular attention to ensure the wheelchair-bound person is able to get him or herself onto the toilet or into the tub, and so he or she can reach faucets and mirrors.
Some elderly housing communities go as far as to install emergency switches or cords in each room of the house. This home modification allows an elderly person to contact medical personnel quickly without having to make a phone call, simply by flipping a switch or pulling on a cord. Other modifications may include louder doorbells or doorbells that include a flashing strobe light for the deaf, efficient heating units placed throughout the home, and sliding doors that are easier to move than heavy swinging doors.