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Making Homes Safe - Modification Checklist

Millions of elderly Americans prefer to age in their own homes, but many face special challenges to live in and maintain their homes. Rebuilding Together USA and the Administration on Aging have collaborated in a national effort to allow the elderly to age in their homes, safely and securely. The following checklist of home modifications, offers solutions for the most common danger areas in homes.

Exterior Entrances/Exits

  • Install stair rails on both sides.

  • Install door lever-type handles on all interior and exterior doors.

  • Install double-bolt lock.

  • Create surfaces to place packages when opening door.

  • Install peephole in exterior door.

  • Repair holes, uneven joints on walkway.

  • Provide non-slip finish to walkway surface.

  • Add ramp.

  • Increase lighting at entry area.

Interior Doors, Halls, Stairs

  • Create clear pathways between rooms.

  • Apply color contrast/texture change at top/bottom stair edges.

  • Install “swing-clear” hinges to widen doorways, minimum width – 32”.

  • Install beveled thresholds (max ½”).

  • Replace/add non-slip surface on steps.

  • Repair/install stair handrails on both sides.


  • Install secure wall reinforcement.

  • Place grab bars at toilet, bath and shower.

  • Install adjustable-height shower head.

  • Install non-slip strips in bath/shower.

  • Secure floor bathmat with non-slip, double-sided rug tape.

  • Elevate toilet height to 16 ½”

  • Adapt flush handle or install flush sensor.

  • Adapt or relocate toilet paper dispenser.

  • Round counter corners to provide safety.

  • Insulate hot water pipes if exposed in bath or kitchen.

  • Create sitting knee clearance at basin by removing bottom vanity door/shelves.

  • Install mirror for sitting/standing view.

  • Install good-quality non-glare lighting.

  • Install no threshold shower if bathing abilities are limited.


  • Build counter for sorting/folding clothes.

  • Adjust clothesline to convenient height.


  • Increase task lighting – sink, stove, etc.

  • Install “D” type cupboard door handles.

  • Install adjustable shelving to increase access to upper cabinets.

  • Install hot-proof surface near oven.

  • Install switch/outlets at front of counter.

  • Install pressure-balanced, temperature regulated faucets, lever type.

  • Create sitting knee clearance under work sites by removing cabinet door/shelves.

  • Improve color-contrast cabinet/counter surface edges and add tactile/color contrasted controls for vision impaired.

Living, Dining, Bedroom

  • Widen/clear pathways within each room by rearranging furniture.

  • Secure throw/area rug edges with double-sided tape.

  • Improve access to/from chair and bed by inserting risers under furniture legs.

  • Use side bed rail or chairs with armrests.

  • Install telephone jack near chair/bed.

  • Enlarge lamp switch or install touch control lamp at bedside.

  • Install adjustable closet rods/shelving and light source for better storage access.

  • Install vertical pole adjacent to chair/sofa.

  • Raise furniture to appropriate height using leg extender products.

  • Install uniform level floor surfaces using wood/tile/or low pile rugs.

Storage Space

  • Install lights inside closets.

  • Install adjustable closet rods and shelves.

  • Install bi-fold/pocket doors.


  • Install easy-to-grip handles and locks at appropriate heights.

Environmental Controls

  • Increase resident’s access to environmental control systems.

  • Install smoke/CO2 detectors; fire extinguisher

  • Relocate laundry appliances.

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