When a person reaches a certain age, has an accident, or becomes ill, they cannot use their home the same way they did before. As certain areas can be highly hazardous for a disabled person, they need to be updated as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are many ways to enhance the quality of home life for people living with disabilities. While some projects require very little time and effort, others involve more extensive renovations and a bigger budget. Creating a wheelchair-friendly living space for disabled people generally means eliminating barriers and making their daily necessities accessible. This simple guide will help you better understand what it takes to adapt your home for wheelchair use. Having said that, allow Pro Denver Movers to walk you through it!
Areas to focus on as you adapt your home for wheelchair use
When making your home more wheelchair friendly, there are certain areas that you need to pay special attention to. Not each and every corner of the house has to be updated, but we do recommend that you adjust the following ones.
Stairs are a common cause of accidents even for people without disabilities. However, for those with limited mobility, they pose a serious threat. Still, almost every home has them. That is why one of the first things you should do to adapt your home for wheelchair use is to install a ramp. A ramp will significantly increase your home’s accessibility and safety. Wheelchair ramps come in several styles suitable for people using different types of mobility aids. The three basic kinds are threshold ramps, collapsible ramps, and portable ramps.
Every home has doors, too. Although necessary, doors provide a number of obstacles to people using a wheelchair. Therefore, the best option is to remove them whenever possible. Consider using curtains as an alternative to minimize risks without sacrificing privacy. Door frames should be wide enough for a wheelchair to easily fit through them. Door frames should be 900 mm (35 in) wide to fit a standard wheelchair. The width of a standard wheelchair is 635 mm (25 in).
Another potential obstacle is thresholds. Even though pushing a wheelchair over a raised threshold does not require much effort, disabled people may not be able to do it on their own. Getting over a threshold can cause hand injuries or damage door frames. To prevent such problems, lower the height of thresholds or replace them with cushioned ones that flatten when a wheelchair rolls over them. If possible, remove the thresholds altogether.
Furthermore, using a conventional doorknob can be challenging for some wheelchair users. Replacing them with push/pull bars, lever-style door handles, or automatic doors would be a great upgrade. When it comes to the peephole, it should be easy to reach from a wheelchair, which means it should be placed lower than usual.
The right flooring option can make life a lot easier for the disabled and mobility-challenged. Anything that slips and slides should be replaced. The floors should be even, easy to maneuver in a wheelchair, slip-resistant, and easy to maintain. Hardwood flooring, thick rugs, and rough grout can cause a lot of difficulties. Smooth, even carpets could be your best bet in some cases. In addition, grippy mats will prevent tripping and slipping in places like bathrooms and showers.
The layout of your home may need some adjustments to meet the needs of disabled individuals. Your furniture should be arranged so that there are no sharp turns or narrow passageways. If you are moving into a new home and having movers transport your household goods, make sure they leave enough space between pieces of furniture for a wheelchair.
Furniture in a wheelchair-friendly home should be firm and stable in order to provide additional support. Chairs and sofas that are too soft or too low are hard to get out of. Furniture made of fragile materials such as glass should be avoided, too. Sharp edges are another potential hazard. Luckily, there are many manufacturers who make the furniture suitable for wheelchair-friendly homes.
The cost of adapting your home for wheelchair use depends on the current state of the property, how many rooms you need to adapt, as well as the period of wheelchair use (whether it’s temporary or long-term). Bathrooms can be one of the more expensive areas of a home to transform. Although making a larger bathroom wheelchair-friendly is somewhat easier, the desired result can be achieved with a smaller bathroom, too.
- The first consideration to keep in mind is the toilet. The seat is usually not high enough for a wheelchair user. There are several ways to adjust its height other than purchasing a new toilet.
- Another thing to take into consideration as you adapt your home for wheelchair use is the height of the sink. Choose single-handle faucets or faucets with sensors rather than grab-and-twist types.
- Place a tall mirror all family members can use just above the sink.
- In the shower, install grab bars (at both sitting and standing heights) and a fixed/portable seat. If the shower has a threshold, make sure it is low enough. The floor of the shower should be textured, and the surface non-slip. Don’t forget about the width of the shower. Showers that are at least 60″ wide can accommodate a wheelchair. Moreover, there should be a handheld shower head with a hose at least 60″ long. Finally, make sure the shower controls are accessible.
- Walk-in tubs with a self-sealing door are the best solution for those who prefer bathtubs. People can easily enter these tubs without climbing over sidewalls.
- Towels and personal care products should be easy to reach, too.
- Towel handles are often used for support – ensure they are strong enough. If possible, install grab bars throughout the bathroom to ease maneuvering.
Although it might seem tricky to adapt your home for wheelchair use, doing so is actually not that complicated. After all, with the right people by your side, making any change you deem necessary is possible. And if you are in need of advice when it comes to moving with disabled people, feel free to contact us any time.