Creating a wheelchair accessible home involves removing barriers and making daily necessities more mobility-friendly.
You may have never imagined yourself needing a wheelchair before now. But due to an ailment or injury or aging, a wheelchair is a non-negotiable. You must have it in order to accomplish tasks and chores throughout your day.
It’s also very important for you to stay in your own home rather than move to a new house or an assisted living facility. You can stay in your home, however, you will need to consider various wheelchair accessible home modifications that meet your unique mobility needs.
Below are some tips and suggestions on how to create a wheelchair accessible home and environment that’s both safe and easy to maneuver around. The more changes you can make, the better experience you will have using your wheelchair accessible home.
Create Ample Space
This tip costs you nothing but time and effort. If you look around your house right now, it may be laid out to fit all the household items you have collected over the years. Sofas, small tables, bookshelves, baskets, flowerpots and lots of other “things.”
You need an environment that offers you space to move around in your wheelchair. Rearrange your furniture so that you have a large pathway to travel from room to room without hitting edges or being blocked by objects. During this process, make the items you use every day more accessible. Move things to lower cabinets so you do not have to struggle in reaching them.
Creating an accessible bathroom is one of the most important and yet challenging renovations in a home. Even though you are in a wheelchair, you still need to be able to bathe and use the toilet with ease and safety. There are many advancements in this area, fortunately.
Medical toilet safety frames are popular due to the added safety of bars on each side of the toilet that can extend to the floor or tuck under your toilet seat. Another suggestion is to replace your old toilet seat with one that sits at the level of your wheelchair. Placing grab bars throughout your bathroom will give you something extra to hold onto if you have a smaller space.
Next, upgrade your bathtub with products that make it easy for you to transition from your chair to your tub or shower. You can choose transition benches that allow you to slide from one side of your tub to the other.
Or, you can install step-in tubs that have a wide opening rather than making you climb over the sides. If your wheelchair can handle water from the shower, you may want to install a large shower that allows you to roll your chair inside. Another product to consider is the bathtub lift that safely moves you and lowers you into your bath.
Stairs and Stairway Accessibility
Just because you are in a wheelchair it doesn’t mean you must stop using the stairs in your home or outside your home. You can install stairlifts. Stairlifts can take you and your wheelchair from floor to floor. Or, you can leave your wheelchair on one level and travel in a stairlift chair to the next.
No matter what type of staircase you have, you can have a stairlift made for it. Straight stairlifts are chosen for straight staircases. If you have bends or curves in your stairs, you can have a curved stairlift installed. Even if you have multi-level stairways, there are lift options available. There are also outside stairlifts and portable stairlifts available to meet your needs.
Solutions for Smaller Stair Steps
It would be silly to put in a full stairlift to move up and down two or three steps. If you have a drop down from your home to your porch, or a few steps that lead to the outdoors, installing a wheelchair ramp is the best option. Some people had added additions to their homes that are a different level, either heightened or lowered from room to room.
A wheelchair can have trouble crossing these thresholds. Ramps can come in handy in these situations. Wheelchair ramps are simple and fit over your steps. They are collapsible and easy to store. You can also opt to get just a threshold ramp if that is all you need to make your home more wheelchair accessible.
Power-Assisted Entrance Accessibility
You may have seen automatic entryways in commercial businesses. Like when you go to the grocery store or doctor’s office and when you approach the door it opens on its own. It is so nice when this happens. You don’t have to worry about who is going to hold the door as you maneuver your wheelchair through.
You can install automatic entryways at your home too. They can be installed to operate from a device you can attach to your wheelchair. With the push of a button, you can open or close your doors. If you are worried about being stuck inside or outside your house if they power goes out, don’t. The doors are designed so that you can operate them manually when power is not available.
If you aren’t ready for automatic entryways, there are still things you can do to making opening and closing doors wheelchair accessible. Changing your doorknobs to push bars or press lever handles make it easier for you.
Smart Home Assistive Technology
Today, assistive technology has been created to make our lives much easier, even for those using a wheelchair. There are systems that will follow your commands. You say the name of your system, then give the command. Commands can include (but are not limited to):
- Turning on and off the lights
- Locking the door
- Dialing 911
- Calling family members
And the list goes on! You deserve the right to stay in your own home as you age, even if you require the use of a wheelchair. You can do this by adapting your home environment so that it is wheelchair accessible. Whether you are making small changes like rails and grab bars, or if you are installing a stairlift, reach out to your local mobility expert to develop the right plan to meet your needs.