When you or your loved one has a physical disability, it becomes more and more apparent how little the rest of the world is aware of accessibility. Most homes are not designed to be handicap accessible, so you will need to make some adjustments yourself. This can be challenging because you may have never considered what goes into making a home easier to navigate for those with wheelchairs, walkers, or canes. Fortunately, there are some fairly easy ways to adapt your home to be safer and simpler for those with physical disabilities, and they don’t necessarily require a major home renovation. In this blog, we will go over some ways you can adapt your home to be more handicap accessible.
Ramps and Lifts
First, it is important to consider the entrance of your home. If climbing stairs isn’t an option for whatever reason, it’s imperative that at least one entrance has a ramp. You can construct your own ramp if you are a DIYer, or you can purchase one (there are many available online). Regardless of how you make it happen, it’s essential that you research into what specific permits you will need to build it according to city building codes and your HOA. It’s also possible to find portable ramps that you can store when not in use.
In addition, you will want to take into account stairs in your home, if you have a multi-story house. Ideally, it would be best for your loved one to be set up on the first floor so they don’t have to worry about needing to climb the stairs. However, if this isn’t an option, you might look into installing a wheelchair lift in your home to make moving between floors easier.
Unfortunately, the standard door is often too narrow to fit a wheelchair. Some homes will require you to widen your doorways, which can be quite costly (upwards of 1,000 dollars). If this is a concern, you might be able to get away with instead installing offset hinges, which widen the swing of the door to add a couple of inches to the space. You can also potentially create more space by removing the door or the woodwork around it.
In addition, you should check the threshold of your doors to make sure that they are not high enough to be a tripping hazard. On all doors of your home, the threshold should be rounded and no higher than half an inch tall.
Finally, consider the handles to the doors in your home. Many door knobs are challenging for people who have hand coordination issues. If you have round door knobs, it’s best to replace them with lever handles instead.
If you have a loved one with a physical disability in your home, it’s important not to have any unsecured rugs on which they could trip and fall. If you do have any rugs you want to keep, you need to make sure they are secured to the floor with an adhesive. In general, it’s best to have hard flooring, such as tile, vinyl, or wood, which are easier to walk on with assistive devices.
Step-in bathtubs pose a hazard to people with disabilities. It’s best to have either a wheelchair accessible or walk-in shower to ensure that your loved one can safely bathe. You might consider installing a bench seat for additional support. In addition, you will want to install grab bars in the shower and tub.
First, installing a grab bar by the toilet is a smart way to provide extra support. In addition, a toilet riser offers handles on either side of the toilet to make it easier for people who have difficulty bending to sit or stand. You can find toilet risers in home improvement stores for under 50 dollars, so this simple investment is definitely worth your time.
You should consider the available pathways through the entirety of your home. For example, in the living room, you need to make sure that furniture is arranged in such a way that your loved one can move around it. Leave at least 32 inches between your pieces of furniture. You should also consider installing furniture coasters so that your furniture stays in place and is raised if that helps your loved one sit more comfortably.
Many homes feature high cabinets that are inaccessible to people who are wheelchair bound or have mobility issues. Make sure that any everyday items that your loved one might need, such as towels and toiletries, are placed somewhere they can easily access them.
Spending time outdoors offers a variety of benefits, and just because your loved one has a physical disability, doesn’t mean they should have to stay inside due to hazards in the yard. You can make your outdoor space more handicap accessible by ensuring that the paths you have are wide enough to accommodate them. In addition, create a surface that is level and firm for wheelchairs and will provide traction for walkers and canes. In addition, edge your paths to ensure a clear path for humans and to deter plants from growing on them.
At Evergreen Home Healthcare, we want to do everything in our power to make sure that your loved one can live as safely, comfortably, and independently as possible. If you require home healthcare in Denver, contact us today to get started with an in-home health aide.