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Physical Changes in the Home

One of the important things that can make a difference to remaining in one’s own home may be the accessibility features of the residence. If a person experiences lessened mobility, stairs may pose a challenge. A person with symptoms of dementia may wander away from the home resulting in the need for electronic systems to monitor their whereabouts. It is important to consider the various accessibility features of the home and the potential of retrofitting to add new features. Some homes may lend themselves to such changes and some may not. Knowing what the potential is for the person’s present home can help to plan ahead for remaining at home or moving if certain circumstances present themselves.

Checklist for Physical Changes in the Home


  • If the house is accessible via a staircase, there is room to install a ramp if required.
  • Walkways are smooth and free of changes in elevation.
  • Stairs if present have railings and railings extend beyond the top and bottom stair.
  • Doorknobs are easy to turn (handles instead of knobs).
  • If necessary a lift could be installed in the stairwell.
  • The thresholds of doorways between rooms are level – there is no step up or step down when going from one room to another.
  • If a wheelchair were necessary, there is room to create pathways wide enough to accommodate the wheelchair.
  • There are phone jacks where they are needed if the person were unable to move about easily.
  • There are sufficient outlets to accommodate additional lighting.
  • If necessary a fence can be installed.
  • Scatter rugs can be removed where necessary


  • Ease of access to bathtub/shower.
  • Need for a bath bench.
  • Adequacy of wall space for grab bars around tub/shower.
  • Adequacy of wall space for grab bars beside toilet.
  • Need for a raised toilet seat.


  • Accessibility to kitchen cupboards.
  • Dining area in the kitchen or nearby.


  • Distance from bedroom to bathroom.
  • Presence of phone jack.

Living Room

  • Chairs and couches are easy to get in and out of.

Sourced from “Transition Guide For Caregivers”, The Ontario Partnership on Aging and Developmental Disabilities

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