7 Ways to Make Your Home More Handicap Accessible
Things can happen in the blink of an eye. If you have an accident where you are injured or a health-related issue that is debilitating, you could find yourself having problems maneuvering around your home by yourself. Here are seven areas of your home to think about when it comes to handicap accessibility.
The steps leading into your home can be a problem for handicap access. Building ramps is a great way to make it easier to access the home. Make sure to check with your local zoning office before building. Permits are often required for exterior features that are added to an existing home. Ramps can also be built inside the home where the floors are uneven or where there are several steps.
Most standard doorways will not be wide enough for a wheelchair to get through, and will need to be widened. Along with wheelchairs, walkers also need to be able to easily get through the doorways.
There are a few different things in the kitchen that can be modified to make it more handicap accessible and safe.
- The counters could be lowered to better accommodate the height of a wheelchair. There should also be legroom under the counters so a wheelchair can sit against it.
- Any sinks could also be lowered.
- A separate stove-top could be installed at a lower height, allowing it to be safely used if you are in wheelchair.
- The upper cabinets might need to be lowered to make sure that they can be reached.
- A side-by-side refrigerator would also be much easier to access than a top-and-bottom model.
The standard design of most bathrooms will make it very difficult for handicap accessibility. Here are a few things that can be modified.
- Shower: Ideally, the shower would allow for a wheelchair to either roll into it or close enough that it can be easily accessed. A stationary seat would also be helpful.
- Tub: A traditional step-in bathtub would be especially cumbersome for someone accommodating a handicap. It could be replaced with a handicap accessible tub fitted with a hinged, water-tight door to make it safer and more convenient.
- Toilet: The seats of standard-sized toilets may be too low to safely accommodate some handicapped needs. A taller toilet can be installed, or a toilet riser can be installed to make the height of the seat more convenient.
- Sink: You’d want the sink at a lower level, as well as having leg room under it in case a wheelchair is being used.
- Grab bars: These are sturdy bars which can be attached to the wall for added support. Strategically placed next to toilets, sinks, tubs, and inside showers, they will help stability issues in a sometimes slippery environment.
Carpet can create a tripping hazard for a walker, and it is very difficult for a wheelchair to maneuver on. Replacing carpets with hardwoods, vinyl, or tile flooring will create a much safer floor covering that is easier to navigate.
Not only will the doors need to be wide enough for a wheelchair to get through, but the hanging rods will need to be lowered so that they can be reached. It’s also a good idea to have plenty of hooks strategically hung at a reachable level.
Depending on the specific handicap, traditional round doorknobs can become hard to turn. Replacing them with handles will make them much easier to use.
These are just some of the ways that you can make your home more handicap accessible. The idea is to create a living environment where you can maintain your independence as much as possible. Making small changes like these will enable you to get around your home safely without relying on the help of others.