Life is unpredictable, it’s the one thing we can all count on. If someone in your home was suddenly injured, would they be able to enter your home and live comfortably? The answer for most of us is no. It’s always a good idea to be proactive and take action to be prepared for unexpected circumstances. In this article we will look at 10 things you can do to make a home accessible. These tips can be used in creating an accessible home for the injured, elderly, or handicapped.
Most of us do not consider how truly inaccessible our homes really are, but the fact is if a wheelchair bound person came into your home right now, it is very likely they would not be able to enter your home without assistance, or even be able to fit through a doorway. There are simple things you can do to make your home more accessible.
Make your home more accessible by taking the following actions:
Widen doorways – An average door frame is not wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Instead of ripping down the existing door, consider replacing your existing hinges with offset hinges. This will give an addition 2″ to the door frame width. If you are attempting to make a home accessible for a person living in the home, consider removing the door completely and replacing it with a pocket style door.
Eliminate or change thresholds – A standard threshold (transition from carpet to tile or flooring to doorways) has small bump that may be difficult to get passed if you are in a wheelchair. To make your home more accessible, consider replacing these thresholds with flat ones (available at most home improvement stores), which can be rolled over effortlessly .
Install entry ramps – Creating an accessible home starts with the entry. The elderly, injured and handicapped will very likely not be able to navigate stairs leading up to the home. Therefore, a contractor should be hired to install an entry ramp. A contractor will be able to properly design an entry ramp that will be easy to use and slip-resistant. This is not a job that you should take on yourself.
Multi-floor entry – If your home has more than one floor, how can you make your home more accessible? There are several options. A stair lift is likely the simplest method, and also the least expensive. Other options include having an elevator or a platform lift installed.
Replace turning doorknobs – A turning doorknob can be difficult to operate for those individuals with a limited grasp or arthritis pain. When creating an accessible home, you can replace these turning doorknobs with levered doorknobs. Now, all an individual will have to do is push the lever and the door will open.
Add handrails – Everyone can benefit from having handrails in their home, but especially those that are attempting to make a home elderly accessible. Handrails should be installed on both sides of interior stairwells to prevent falls, and also near any exterior stairways.
Widen and clear passageways – To accommodate walkers and wheelchairs, passageways should be a minimum of 42″ in width. They should also be cleared of any clutter and debris to allow safe and clear passage.
Install grab bars – When a person has limited mobility, they need to be able to ensure their safety for even the most basic tasks. Grab bars should be placed near the toilet, and by the bathtub and shower. There should also be a grab bar located near the bed when creating an accessible home.
Bathtub/Shower Options – In some cases, a grab bar is not adequate enough in creating an accessible home. For some, the simple act of standing in a shower or getting up and down in the bathtub is simply too difficult. In this case, consider providing a shower chair (a.k.a a tub transfer seat) or replace your bathtub with a walk-in bathtub or curbless shower.
Replace appliances – If you are making your home more accessible for a person living in the home, you will need to reconsider the appliances that are used. Top loading washing machines are nearly impossible for a wheelchair bound individual to operate, however a front loading machine should be simple to use. In addition a standard, top/bottom refrigerator is only partly accessible, where a side-by-side model will be easier to use. Standard cook tops can be replaced with ones with low, front controls.
There are many other things you can do to make your home more accessible, but these ideas are a good place to start. When it comes to creating an accessible home, keep in mind that a person’s dignity and independence is at stake, and in some cases that is all they have left.
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