If you or a loved one is facing a disability or physical limitation that requires a wheelchair, cane or walker, you are facing some important lifestyle decisions. One of your concerns will undoubtedly be how to get around the house. Whether the need for mobility support is temporary or permanent, your home will probably require some adjustments to make getting around easier.
There are certainly any number of major reconstruction projects that you can undertake, including adding a walk-in shower or lowering all of your cabinets. However, there are also many simple and affordable ways to make a home handicap accessible. Home Health Medical carries many products that can increase mobility and accessibility around the home for people using wheelchair, walkers or canes.
Entries, Walkways and Doorways
Ramps – The advantage to portable ramps is that they are a cost-effective way to help persons with handicaps to maneuver over steps and stairs. Longer ramps can also be used to access vans and other transportation without requiring an expensive chair lift.
Transitions –Make sure that floors are level and that any problem transitions are evened out to avoid tripping or catching. Threshold ramps are helpful for entryways that have a small step between the outdoor and indoor space.
Doorways – Doorways can be a challenge, especially for wide walkers or wheelchairs. A handicap accessible door should be at least 3 feet wide. However, it is not always possible or affordable to widen a doorway to accommodate mobility aids. If you have sliding glass doors, consider replacing them with French doors that offer a wider opening. Replacing doorknobs with easy-to-grip handles is another way to ease entering and exiting a home for someone with physical limitations. Installing expandable offset hinges can widen doorways for wheelchair and walker access by up to 2 inches. These hinges allow access to the full width of the doorframe.
Sink access – If you want to better accommodate a wheelchair, remove the doors from cabinets below the sink so that the wheelchair user can get close. Replace faucet handles or knobs with levered faucets and kitchen spray heads to improve usability and access for individuals with disabilities or who cannot stand for extended periods of time.
Cabinets and countertops – It may not be financially possible to lower all cabinets and countertops for wheelchair accessibility. To make the kitchen more user friendly for people with reaching, bending or standing limitations, move items stored in upper cabinets to the bottom of the cabinet and move items stored in lower cabinets to the top shelves. This will limit the need to reach and bend. Keeping a reacher close at hand will provider greater independence when accessing cabinets. You can also find handy hinges that allow cabinet doors to open 180 degrees. This gets cabinet doors completely out of the way of wheelchairs and walkers.
Grab bars – Wet and slippery are two things any person with limited mobility wants to avoid. So, bathrooms can be particularly concerning. Install grab bars in and around toilets, showers and bathtubs to increase bathroom safety.
Showers and bathtubs – Apply bath safety treads to the floor of tubs and showers to avoid slipping. Replace your shower head with a hand held shower kit to limit reaching or stretching that can put a physically limited person at risk.
Sinks – Persons using wheelchairs and walkers will find pedestal sinks easier to maneuver around in a bathroom. If it is not possible to install a pedestal sink, consider removing cabinet doors to make access to stored items easier and so that wheelchair users can better approach the sink.
Multi-level closet spaces – Reaching is a challenge for individuals confined to wheelchairs or for persons with a limited range of mobility. Installing an adjustable closet system puts things in reach. Shelves, hanging rods, hooks and drawers can all be placed at handicap accessible heights.
These simple, affordable fixes can provide greater independence for walker and wheelchair users, the elderly and others with physical handicaps.