Caregiver Harbor Advice

Planning to Remodel? You Need to Read this First
Frank Blood

Planning to Remodel? You Need to Read this First

If you’re a caregiver no one has to tell you that most homes are built for standard size adults without physical challenges. Whether you care for a child with special needs, a spouse with a disability, a parent with age related difficulties, or someone else of any age you probably moved into your home before you began caring or you planned to remodel as soon as you moved in. Your care-recipient wants to be as independent as possible but with obstacles ranging from stairs too difficult to negotiate to bathrooms too small to accommodate assistive equipment, most caregiving homes need to be modified for comfort in some way.

The steps to make certain you get everything you need without getting more than you need, within a budget you can afford, and without overspending can seem overwhelming. Even if you only want to add grab bars you still must learn something about proper placement and anchorage; not to mention trying to find ones that fit your home’s décor instead of the institutional look. If you hire a contractor who isn’t trained in disability design, like a “Certified Aging in Place Specialist” or a “Universal Design Certified Professional”, you may be disappointed if the grab bars aren’t located where you really need them or find out later that you could really use one or two more in the same bathroom. Often there are other products that help keep you safe or are much easier to use that could have been installed at the same time had you known about them. Products such as: a walk-in shower to replace a bath tub, a taller toilet, automatic faucets, and door levers instead of knobs are among the most popular.

Major projects like room additions, kitchen and bath upgrades, widening doorways, adding ramps, etc. are often much cheaper than moving and have a number of other benefits.

  • Increases the value of your home
  • Stay in a familiar area (which is really important for the elderly)
  • No stressful disruption of your lives
  • Keep your close social circle (including your church)
  • Know exactly what you have (no surprises)


The first thing that needs to be done is to decide how to go about gathering good information so you can make a plan. Besides wanting to know the costs, you’ll also want to know if there are agencies that will help you pay for it through loans, grants, tax deductions, or assistance. You might be thinking of adding an exterior ramp so you’ll want to know about different designs and how they’ll affect your home’s appearance.  What happens once a wheelchair enters your home? How easy will it be for the person to navigate around corners and over different types of flooring? Even if their vision isn’t impaired, you’ll what to know what lighting changes should be made and how the light will be directed for someone in a chair.


A Complete Guide

The point is that you need resources; lots of resources. Rather than going online and randomly searching, there is an online article, Home Remodeling for Disability and Special Needs: What You Need to Know by Michael Sledd, which provides a thorough explanation of how to plan for your project, suggests ideas to consider, and includes excellent links to valuable resources. He says, “This guide will identify legal and financial resources available to citizens, seniors, and veterans, offer tips to hire the right home remodeler, and suggest modifications throughout the home to make the space as accommodating as possible.” We think you’ll save a lot of research time if you read his post first.

Click here to read the full article.

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