Accessibility is vital for any home that accommodates someone with a physical disability. It allows adults to remain independent and reduce the burden of care on others. Completing some building alterations to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility aids and getting the right movable items like transfer benches can improve the functionality of a home for an individual with a disability.
1. Make the Home Entrance Accessible
Entryways, especially in houses, present a range of problems for physically disabled people. The doorway is usually raised above ground level, which means it’s necessary to put in a stair lift or a long ramp to accommodate mobility aids. Enlarge the platform directly outside the door to accommodate a wheelchair or a McKesson folding walker while opening the door.
2. Fit Automatic Door-Opening Mechanisms
Opening a front door is complicated, with a manual lock and handle placed in standard positions. Examine the needs of the person in your household and determine whether you need to change the lock to an electronic, remotely-activated type. If you don’t upgrade to a full electronic lock, you might benefit from lowering the door handle and lock to make them easier to access from a seated level.
3. Provide Good Lighting
Blindness is a disability, even if it’s only partial. While complete blindness requires a full set of accommodations, don’t overlook the needs of vision-impaired individuals when it comes to home accessibility. Make sure the lighting in your home is bright enough to illuminate the top and bottom of stairways and any other places where you make floor transitions from one level to another.
4. Create Graded Doorway Transitions
If you’ve ever tried getting a wheelchair over a half-inch-high doorway transition, you’ll know how difficult it can be. For anyone using mobility aids such as wheelchairs, rollators, and rolling walkers, using a ramp can make a world of difference to their independence. Install graded transitions wherever the floor surface is not entirely flush, or use a portable wheelchair ramp to transform a step into a wheelchair-accessible entry point quickly.
5. Install Double Stair Handrails
Stairways can present a significant obstacle for anyone with mobility issues, and many homeowners are now building facilities on the main floor of the house for family members. If possible, install railings on both sides of the stairs, which can make going up and down much more accessible. Double handrails enable people to use their dominant hand for support and give them twice the stability when they need it.
6. Replace Door Knobs
Many people with disabilities find it challenging to get a grip on a round, hard object like a doorknob, let alone find the strength to turn it. Replace the interior door knobs in the home with lever handles or push bars that are easy to press using body weight. Doors that open automatically or at the press of a button might sound like an expensive option, but they will increase the home’s resale value and make it accessible to anyone.
7. Install a Hand-Held Shower Head
If your bathroom has a fixed shower head, installing a handheld unit with a long, flexible hose can make it easier for users to perform bathing tasks in a seated position. It helps caregivers assist people with showering, and it’s useful to anyone who might need to bathe children, pets, and to clean the shower area after use. There’s a wide range of handheld shower head styles to choose from, so customize the installation as much as you need to.
8. Provide Tub and Shower Seats
Shower and tub seats deliver much-needed stability in the bathroom. They offer a comfortable resting place during showers, which can help to prevent slips and falls. Transfer benches enable you to move between a wheelchair or rollator and the bathtub/ shower without difficulty. Shower and tub seats like the Drive™ Safety Swivel Seat Shower Stool are lightweight but stable and offer a sense of security at a vulnerable time.
9. Mount Grab Bars
Grab bars are an essential item for an accessible home. Install bars in and around the tub, toilet, and shower areas at the appropriate height and angle for the individual. You can also install grab bars in any other area where a person needs support to lift themselves, such as alongside the bed or in the living room next to an easy-chair.
10. Improve Toilet Comfort
Using the toilet is such a fundamental part of daily life; it needs to be as accessible and comfortable as possible. Raised toilet seats can help people sit down or stand up from the toilet, while toilet frames offer sidebars for stability and support. Some of these fit directly over the existing toilet seat, which makes them simple to install without any complicated construction work.
Remodeling your home can be expensive, but there are a lot of resources available to help make it accessible for someone with a physical disability. And with the wide variety of products available that don’t need renovation work, you can make significant useful changes without spending a lot of money.