According to the 2000 census, nearly 50 million people in the United States have some type of disability. Of this group, 6.8 million have a condition that makes it difficult to bathe, dress and get around the inside of their own homes. 78 percent of individuals between 50 and 64 years of age state that they want to stay in their current residence as they get older. This means delaying, or avoiding completely, the necessity for them to live with their children, in assisted living centers, or in nursing homes for the elderly.
Most manufactured homes, like stick built homes, are built for people who are healthy and mobile. If staying in your home for as long as possible is important for you or your loved ones, take steps now to put plans and modifications in place to facilitate this goal. Here’s a few simple fixes that you can do:
• The home should always be well-lit and have easy to operate switches. Dimmers are a smart suggestion, allowing the user to increase or decrease the intensity as needed. Rocking switches are easier to use than the standard switch.
• Install night lights throughout the home.
• Put the thermostat in a convenient place. Use a digital version with large numbers and a light for easier reading.
• Flooring should be free of rugs or obstacles to reduce the possibility of tripping.
• Add a shower seat and grab bars to the bathroom along with a handheld shower head. Many household accidents occur while getting in and out of the tub.
• Use D-shaped drawer and cabinet handles. This makes it much easier to pull than knobs.
• Add a raised toilet seat and grab bars around it to facilitate bending.
• Raise your dishwasher, washer and dryer to minimize bending.
There are industry-wide concepts that have become popular in disability and elderly remodeling designs. Universal Design is one such concept; Aging in Place is another. Both concepts strive to make the home safe, secure and completely usable throughout one’s lifetime.
For elderly individuals Aging in Place is a dream that is increasingly becoming a reality. In the past, such a practice was not practical or feasible, due to a lack of infrastructure and services available. Some aging individuals couldn’t stay in their homes after frailty set in because there were no home care services to cater to their needs. Over the last couple of decades, a huge emphasis on Aging in Place has allowed new industries to meet the needs that allow the older generation to live in their home for as long as they want.
Yet, you don’t have to be handicap to reap the benefits of Universal Design or Aging in Place. Homeowners are embracing the aging in place concept and foregoing the move to popular retirement destinations. They are spending their money on renovation and upgrades instead.
A standard manufactured home is ahead of the game in accessibility because it only has one story. However, the home will need a few changes to improve accessibility and safety.
• Widening doors throughout the home
• Ensuring that a space has a 5’ clearance for turning a wheelchair
• Removing bathroom sink cabinets for larger turnaround space
• Installing ramps
• Varying height kitchen work surfaces
• Knee space at a kitchen countertop for a chair
• Pull-out shelf for oven food transfer

• Low exterior door thresholds
• Lever-handled locksets for exterior doors
• Offset tub/shower anti-scald controls
• Curbless shower with a flexible water dam
As with any remodeling project retrofitting to allow aging in place will cost money, but there are ways to cover the expenses that you may not be aware of. There are grants, loans and other financial products and state organizations that can help you.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website, veterans are eligible for a grant to pay for retrofitting of their homes for aging in place and handicap accessibility. This is a great benefit for our veterans.
Your local Council or Agency on Aging may offer a home modification program in your area. Repairs and modifications are offered free-of-charge for those with very-low income. HUD awards Community Block Development Grants (CBDG) to eligible local government housing entities for revitalizing distressed neighborhoods. Recipients of the funding often sponsor home modification programs. Contact your county housing revitalization department for specific program information and qualifications.
States sometimes offer home modifications through its Department of Vocational Rehabilitation services. Although the focus of the program is employment for persons with disabilities, some provide home modifications as part of their support services. Check with your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation department to see if you are eligible.
Some insurance programs cover home modifications. Worker’s compensation, car insurance, medical trusts or state catastrophic accident insurance may all pay for a home modification. Senior citizens may have this benefit through their long-term care policies. These policies sometimes allocate a specific amount to home modifications in exchange for the stay at a long-term assisted living facility. There are home equity solutions to aging in place and handicap issues, as well.
Becoming handicapped is a difficult transition for anyone as is slowly losing your mobility over time. You can make your family’s lives and yours easier with modifications to your manufactured home. These modifications can allow you to thrive in your home.