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AARP Home Fit

Making a Home Fit for People With Ability Needs

Tips and techniques that help residents who have diminished vision, strength or mobility

AARP Home Fit Guide

All kinds of homes can be lifelong homes. — Getty Images

Simple home modifications can make a home more user-friendly and livable for people who have difficulties with vision, strength or getting around.  


  • Install new lights (such as motion-sensor flood lights) or increase lighting on exterior pathways, porches and doorways

  • Increase lighting on all stairs, either by plugging nightlights into wall outlets or installing overhead fixtures or wall sconces

  • Place lighting over the kitchen sink, stove and other work areas and be sure you have a stove with controls that are easy to see

  • Keep a magnifying glass in the places you may need them for reading small print (kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom)

  • If a shower grab bar is hard to see, make it more visible with colored tape or paint

  • For better lighting throughout the house:

o   install light switches that glow in the dark

o   place automatic, light-sensor nightlights in hallways and rooms 

o   add lighting to closets

o   install a thermostat that’s easy to read

o   use full-spectrum bulbs that simulate daylight

o   use halogen bulbs to reduce glare

o   open window shades, blinds and curtains for natural light during the day


  • Replace round doorknobs with easier to use lever-style door handles

  • Place a chair or table outside the front door for placing packages while you lock or unlock the door

  • Replace traditional toggle-style light switches with larger, easier-to-use “rocker-style” light switches

  • Repair or replace any hard-to-open windows 


  • Use adjustable and low rods and shelves in closets and cabinets. Consider pull-out or pull-down shelves, or drawers designed to close automatically

  • Have the dishwasher elevated to reduce the amount of bending you must do
  • Choose a side-by-side or drawer-style refrigerator

  • Sit rather than stand while working at the kitchen countertop. (If necessary, have cabinet shelves or drawers removed to allow room for your knees.)

  • Place rolling casters on chairs

  • Buy touch control lamps or “clapper” devices for lights and electronics

  • Install a walk-in or no-threshold shower, a bath seat or bench, and an adjustable, handheld showerhead

  • Use a front-loading washer. Place the washer, dryer, shelves and work surfaces at reachable heights

  • Keep an easy-to-use cell phone on you or install a telephone in multiple rooms (including the bathroom) so you’re never too far from being able to call for help

Page published October 2014

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