Living with a disability can be very challenging, and it is even more so when you're trying to live in an inaccessible environment. Although every person is different, and every situation is different, there are a number of fixes (both complex and simple) that can greatly help to make your home wheelchair accessible and your life easier. In this article, we review some of the changes that you can have made to your home that may help you to get around and live more comfortably and easily. Read on to learn more.
Tips on Making Your Home Wheelchair Accessible
1. Put in Ramps!
Ramps are actually much more practical than stairs in so many ways. Replacing your front steps with a ramp can make life easier for everyone ranging from people using walkers and wheelchairs to delivery people bringing in large appliances. If you are building a home, even if you do not have a wheelchair user in the home, consider installing ramps instead of stairs. Doing so will make your home accessible for wheelchair using friends and makes aging in place easy and natural.
2. Get a Stair Lift
If you have long flights of stairs, ramps may not be an option; however, a stair lift is a modern, fairly easy modification that can help make a two-or-more story home accessible for walker and wheelchair users who are able to transfer on their own. Keep in mind, you'll need to have multiples of mobility devices on each story of the home.
3. Install an Elevator
Elevators aren't just for public buildings. These days many people with disabilities are staying safely and comfortably in their own homes with the installation of an elevator. Even though this is a significant expense, keep in mind that if you own your home having it elevator equipped will increase its value.
4. Make your Bathroom Accessible
Like ramps, accessible bathrooms are stylish and desirable for anyone and go a long way toward making aging in place possible. It just makes sense to have a bathroom that is free of dangerous obstacles such as tall tub sides and entangling shower curtains. Likewise, it's safe and smart to have grab bars in strategic locations in your bathroom and to eliminate slick, dangerous surfaces. As with ramps, even if you don't have a person with a disability in your home, it's wise to make accessible upgrades and doing so will increase the value of your home.
5. Add Hand Rails
Along ramps and down the sides of long hallways and in any other location where a person might need a little extra support, a handrail is an excellent addition.
6. Update Your Doorknobs
Standard round doorknobs can be very difficult for people with arthritis or manual dexterity challenges to operate. Replace your round doorknobs with lever handles to make it easier for everyone to open and close doors. Push and pull bars are also a welcome addition.
7. Have Automatic Doors Installed
Wheelchair users and/or people who have manual dexterity challenges that would prevent them from being able to reach or operate any type of doorknob or handle can benefit from the installation of an automatic door. This type of door can be operated through the push of a button, or it may even be cell phone or voice activated or the use of some other signal. Note that these doors may also be operated manually.
8. Make Your Pool Accessible
Swimming and water exercise are great activities for everyone. Being able to spend time in water improves muscle tone, reduces stress and improves quality of life. For this reason, installing a pool lift is an excellent investment.
9. Make Smart Everyday Choices
Choose furnishings that are easy for a person using a wheelchair to access.
10. Make Smart Use of Your Smart Phone
Don't overlook the many possibilities for accessibility that are available through smart phone and smart home apps. These modern innovations make it easy for people with disabilities to access lighting, entertainment, security and the many other features that everyone enjoys about this technology.
Remember That One Size Does Not Fit All
It's always smart idea when designing a new home remodeling an old home to keep accessibility in mind because the modifications you make will increase the value of your home and make it easier to age in place.
The ideas presented here are just simple, basic ideas that should work with for many people with disabilities, and putting these ideas in place can help make your home easier to live in, even for people without disabilities.
Even so, the modifications you make will vary from person to person and situation to situation. For example, a young paraplegic who is quite active and able may need some modifications that are quite different from those needed by an older person and might even get by with portable accessibility devices such as folding ramps, portable stair climbers and the like, as demonstrated in this video.
Older people aging in place might need completely different modifications as suggested in this video.
If in doubt as to which modifications will work best in your situation, consult your physical therapist and/or your doctor to get some good ideas. If you are making modifications for a loved one, be sure to consult that person. If you are making modifications for yourself, consult experts, but don’t be afraid to present your own ideas. Working together, you can create an accessible home that will suit your needs perfectly.