Having a handicap accessible home can greatly improve your quality of living. Whether you’re interested in modifying your home to allow aging in place, or a family member has mobility and accessibility issues, there are a number of things you can do to make your home more accessible. They include:
1. Widening Doorways
Many wheelchairs, walkers and even mobility scooters are too wide to get through the doors in some houses. This is especially true with bathrooms. Most homeowners don’t know how to widen a doorway, so this is one of those jobs where you might want to hire a professional. Any general contractor and some handyman services know how to widen a doorway so that you have better access and help make yours a handicap accessible home.
2. Building a Wheelchair Ramp
Building a wheelchair ramp is pretty straightforward. Google how to build a wheelchair ramp, and you will come across a number of how-to videos and articles with step-by-step instructions, complete with a list of supplies you will need. Being able to easily get in and out of your home is a top concern for a handicap accessible home.
Be sure to check with your local municipality to see if you need a permit to build a wheelchair ramp.
3. Adding Grab Bars
Adding grab bars in the bathroom(s) helps with safety and stability for people with balance issues, or who are at risk for a fall. We recommend installing grab bars in every bathroom next to the toilet, as well as in the shower or bathtub. There are a number of styles to choose from.
4. Install a Toilet Seat Riser
If you don’t already have the newer comfort height toilet with nearby grab bars, adding a toilet seat riser is a good solution. A toilet seat riser has grab bars and fits right on top of the toilet seat. They make it easy to sit down and stand up again when using the toilet. They’re widely available in multiple styles for around $50.
5. Modify or Add a Walk in Shower
Climbing into a bathtub to take a shower can be a dangerous proposition as you age, or for someone with balance or mobility issues. Adding a walk-in shower—or even a roll-in shower if you have the space—is an excellent solution. Add a shower seat and grab bars for added support. In most cases, this is a job for professionals, but it will help give you a handicap accessible home.
6. Modify Flooring
Walkers, wheelchairs and mobility scooters perform best on smooth flooring. So do people who might have a slight shuffling gait, or eyesight issues. Consider replacing carpet with hardwood, vinyl or tile. It’s also a good idea to remove area rugs, which can be a trip hazard.
7. Rearrange Your Kitchen
We’re not talking a major remodel—although in some cases that might be recommended. Most kitchens these days already have the sink and appliances in a triangle, where it is easy to get from one side to the other with minimum effort. We mean clear away any obstacles between the sink, stove and refrigerator. Rearrange your kitchen cabinets so that everyday items are in the lower cabinets. And if your kitchen isn’t suitable for you or your loved one, consider remodeling for a more handicap accessible home.
8. Lower Closet Rod Height
This is a simple fix. A lower closet rod height makes it easier for someone with mobility issues to choose their own clothing each day. If you have built-in shelving, rearrange the closet to give easier access to favorite clothing items. You can also exchange a dresser with hard to open drawers for an open shelf style, where everything is easy to see and access.
9. Replace Door Knobs with Lever Door Handles
Arthritis and muscular issues can make it hard to open a door equipped with a standard door know. Lever door handles are much easier to operate. You can even open them with one finger, or an elbow!
10. Add a Stair Lift
If you’re going to be in the home awhile and don’t want to be limited to the first floor, installing a stair lift can help you stay in your home, or help a loved one maintain a sense of freedom. Just be sure to shop around and have a certified installer like Next Day Mobility install your stair lift. It is not a do-it-yourself job.
In Conclusion—Helping You Have a Handicap Accessible Home
We hope these tips have been helpful. There are a lot of things you can do that will make your home a handicap accessible home now, and in the future.