10 Ways to Revamp Your Home So It's Easier to Get Around
If you're a member of the disabled community or a member of the Golden Years Seniors set, indubitably the prospect of visiting a friend in their home raises questions of accessibility. But what about your own abode? How safe is your residence, and how can you make it more so?
The Disabled Discrimination Act (DDA) defines accessibility standards for commercial buildings, but inhabitants of private houses are solely responsible for making their home safe for those with disabilities and trouble moving around. Here are 10 things you can to do make your home more accessible for a disabled or elderly family member or yourself.
1. Clear the Front Garden/Access
The elderly and those with chronic conditions often call on emergency personnel in case of falls or other health emergencies. But if first responders have difficulty locating your address, precious minutes can fly by wasted.
Hire a gardener to clear clutter from the front yard, trim bushes and ensure your house number is clearly visible from the road. Consider xeriscaping with succulents which grow slowly, require little maintenance or water and do not obscure access points.
2. Consider Automatic Doors
If you use a wheelchair or walker, opening doors can pose a challenge. Install a button which automatically opens front doors for you and if you have steps to your front door, an exterior grab rail can be helpful. Make sure to install a deadbolt as well to keep unwanted parties from pushing the button to enter.
3. Invest in a Lift for Multistory Homes
If you're elderly or disabled and you live in a multistory home, you no doubt dread laundry day. Make the unpleasant chore easier by installing a chair lift. You can invest in a chair which slides along your rail, or, if you have space, you can install a through floor lift. An old-fashioned dumbwaiter can help those who can walk move heavier loads between floors.
4. Look into Walk-in Showers and Baths
Approximately 80 percent of household falls take place in the bathroom. Manoeuvering in and out of the bath can prove difficult for the disabled and elderly. Walk-in showers and baths offer one alternative, especially if paired with a shower chair to help those with balance challenges.
5. Try to Lower Counter Tops
How easy would it be to reach your counter tops if you stood 3ft 6"? Cooking probably would exhaust your poor shoulders. It's the same for those in wheelchairs. Hire a cabinet refinishing company to lower the counters to allow those in chairs to prep food more easily and if the wheelchair can fit under the countertop, even better!
6. Install a Wheelchair Ramp
If you live on a hill, a day may come when you or your disabled beloved will struggle to get into your home. Installing a ramp outdoors can make a world of difference when it comes to schlepping groceries in and taking rubbish out even if you're not chair bound. According to the DDA, wheelchair ramps calculations should be 1:12 for independent use and 1:10 for assisted use.You can look into this option for the entrance, and even many other parts of your home as well.
7. Support Bars in Bathrooms
Going to the toilet can prove tricky for those with balance challenges or those who use wheelchairs. Install grab bars around toilets so such individuals have an easy stabiliser to hold when making the transfer to the porcelain throne.
8. Lower Wardrobe Rails
If you use a wheelchair, reaching up to grab your favorite shirt can pose problems. Lower wardrobe hanging rails, or opt for wardrobes with two rows of bars and utilise the bottom one. Invest in inexpensive storage cubbies for socks, underwear, and tee-shirts.
9. Leave Ample Space Between Furniture
Sure, mobile individuals may be able to squeeze around furniture, but those using walkers have a more difficult time maneouvering. Leave ample space between furniture placements to allow mobility devices to glide through easily.
10. Replace Carpet with Wood or Tile
Carpet mutes noise and feels soft, but have you tried pushing a wheelchair over a plush rug? It's tough. Replace carpeted flooring with tile or hardwood. Those most worried about falls find an elevated wood floor with adequate padding beneath softens the blow if the unfortunate occurs.
10. A Happy, Accessible Home
Home is where the heart is, and that goes double for the disabled and elderly. By making simple changes, you, too, can make your home more accessible and easy to get around for almost anyone.
Author: Kate Harveston, Health & Lifestyle Journalist.
You can find a wide selection of grab bars in our bathroom category here
About the Authors