Home and Safety Modifications

Home and Safety Modifications


Many independent seniors have some minor mobility, hearing, or vision issues which can increase their risk of a trip, fall, or accident at home. It is always wise to ensure that the home is safe, especially if the senior has any deficits or functional issues. Below are some questions that can serve as a preliminary guide to determine modifications that may need to be made to the home to ensure it is safe[1]. If there are concerns, you may wish to download a more extensive home safety checklist from the internet which will allow you to assess the home in greater detail.[2]

• Are there loose throw rugs or electrical cords on the floor?

• Is there any loose or frayed broadloom in the home?

• Is the flooring in good condition?

• Are all kitchen appliances in working order?

• Is there anything flammable in the kitchen and if so, is it safely stored?

• Is the kettle auto-shutoff?

• Are you (is the senior) safe to use all kitchen appliances?

• Do any appliances pose a fire hazard? (Check cords, plugs, and auto shut-off features.)

• Are there working smoke detectors and CO detectors in the home on every floor?

• Is there a fire extinguisher in the home and can you (the senior) safely use it?

• Can you (the senior) safely reach things in cupboards?

• Can you (the senior) get in and out of the bathtub without issue? If not, are there properly installed safety bars?

• Is there a non-slip surface in the bathtub?

• Is there adequate lighting in the home/hallways/bathroom/kitchen and outside the house?

• Are light switches and plugs in good working order and easy to access?

• Are there night lights in the bathroom, hallways, and kitchen?

• Are walkways and stairways clear so there are no tripping hazards present?

• Are there secure stair railings wherever there are steps (inside and outside)?

• Is it easy for you (the senior) to get in and out of bed, chesterfield and chairs?

• Are medications in their original containers, easy to reach, and easy to open?

• Do you (the senior) have any issues taking/remembering medications?

If you have any concerns at all about the environment or your (the senior’s) ability to manage safely in it, you may want to have the home assessed by a professional to determine and fix specific safety issues or arrange for specialized equipment to assist in functioning or maintaining independence. An Occupational Therapist will be able to determine functional needs and should know if there is any specialized funding or programs that can assist with the cost of equipment/renovations.

For seniors in Ontario who are homeowners with low to moderate-income who know that they require some home modifications to assist with safety or functioning (i.e. ramps, handrails, chair lifts, etc.), there is a financial program in place that may be of interest. Funding (in the form of grants or forgivable loans) may be possible through The Ontario Renovates - Home Adaptations for Independence Program. Applications are available, and money is administered, through regional/municipal housing departments. For details, eligibility guidelines, and applications visit your city’s website and look under the housing category or search their website for the Ontario Renovates Program. All other provinces have similar programs to Ontario’s. Information for each province’s programs can be found at BC - www.bchousing.org, Alberta - www.alberta.ca/seniors-and-housing.aspx – search for the Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program, Saskatchewan - www.saskatchewan.ca – search for the Home Repair Program, Manitoba - www.gov.mb.ca/housing/progs/repair.html, Quebec - www.habitation.gouv.qc.ca, New Brunswick - www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/services/services_renderer.8735.Federal__Provincial_Repair_Program_.html and Nova Scotia - housing.novascotia.ca. General information about Aging in Place/Accessible Home Modifications can be found at www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca.


[1] These questions are not meant to replace a home assessment by a trained professional. They merely highlight areas of greatest concern for a senior.  If there are significant issues in the home or if you are concerned about the person’s safety, please consult an Occupational Therapist.

[2]  A comprehensive home safety checklist can be found at www.ec-online.net/Knowledge/Articles/safehome.html.

If you are looking for assistance locating a home or resources for your loved one, you can reach out to our consulting team at consulting@seniorcareaccess.com or visit our consulting page for more information. Our Discover 3 program offers decision-makers and seniors, an opportunity to have a professional consultant identify 3 housing solutions based on their needs. If you need more information on care options for seniors, retirement community, or long-term care visiting tips and/or if you are interested in organizing your loved one’s information using our Care Planning Workbook, visit our publications page for a list of options and downloads.
For additional questions, feel free to contact us at connect@seniorcareaccess.com.
SeniorCareAccess.com is Canada’s largest unbiased seniors’ housing database, offering consulting services, and both seniors’ service and housing directories for professionals, seniors, and their families.


59 other articles by Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW