It’s possible that at some point in your life you or a member of your family might need the assistance of a wheelchair to get around. Most homes are not overly wheelchair friendly, however, which means you are going to need to consider certain modifications. It could be an illness or injury that you’re recovering from or merely a case of getting older. Whatever the reason, your home should be a place for everyone to enjoy, so here are six changes you can make to ensure everyone feels welcome and safe.
Entering a home can be quite a challenge if you’re in a wheelchair. The first obstacle to overcome is often the doorstep. Installing a wheelchair ramp is the best way to overcome this barrier. There is a range of different ways to do it, depending on your budget and the needs of the user.
Doorways are another considerable obstacle for wheelchair users as they tend to be too small to fit through. As well as increasing the width of the doorway, there should also be enough space for the wheelchair user to reach and be able to open the door.
Unless you happen to live in a house that’s all on one floor, the stairs are the most significant barrier that has to be overcome. Thankfully, there are several different options. The first is to add a stair lift, which is a mechanism that allows a person to be carried up and down the stairs. It works in much that same way as an elevator because it’s powered by electricity. What’s more, very few design changes are required so this is often the easiest option. The downside of this option is that the person using it might need assistance getting into and out of the lift. If the wheelchair user needs to be able to get around on their own, a wheelchair lift or through floor lift is a better option.
A bathroom will require a considerable amount of remodeling. The space needs to be big enough for the wheelchair to turn around in and the bathtub will have to be replaced with a roll-in shower. Installing shower grab rails will also be a sensible thing to do. The toilet and sink will also need to be replaced with wheelchair friendly fittings.
As well as allowing enough space in the kitchen for a wheelchair to turn around in, many of the countertops and appliances will need to be lowered. There should also be knee and toe clearance under the sink and countertops.
The main areas have been covered in the points above. However, there are a few other areas that might need your attention. Light switches, outlets and thermostat controls will need to be lowered, so they’re within reach. Pathways should be smooth and free of any cracks. Internal flooring has to be smooth and durable; for example, laminate or vinyl. Rods inside closets will need to be lowered and pocket doors added if possible.
It does require a significant amount of work and investment if you want to make your home wheelchair accessible. However, the payoff is a comfortable home for all members of your family, so it has to be worth the expense.