It is unfortunate that the home designers of the past didn’t give much thought to building accessible homes that were ‘wheelchair friendly’. Getting as many rooms into a given square footage was priority, which makes for smaller bathrooms and narrower doorways. Anyone wheelchair bound will have problems with a sunken living room.
Most disabled people (depending on their disability) are much better off in their homes in familiar surroundings, but changes to the inside and outside will have to be made to accommodate the wheelchair user.
Wheelchair ramps should be installed at the entrances and walkways. They are available in concrete, wood and aluminum (some of which are portable). Eliminate thresholds where possible to allow the wheelchair to roll easier. In some cases a mat might do the trick for a smoother ride.
Make sure the mat is big enough and it is secured so it won’t slide. Grab bars or handrails on the ramps or next to thresholds are great to help the user to propel themselves so that they can maneuver these sough spots.
Make Doorways Wider If Possible
Most older homes have smaller doorways especially to the bathroom. Most doorways are only 24″ wide but to accommodate a wheelchair, they need to be at least 32″ wide. Door frames aren’t that difficult to widen, but you can still add at least 2″ to the width of the doorway by installing offset hinges.
Invest in a Wheelchair Lift
A wheelchair lift can give the disabled person much more accessibility in their home. Multi-level homes usually restrict the wheelchair user to mostly one level. There are a number of options on the market today including portable ones that can be stowed under your vehicle and can be used to help get in to and out of the vehicle.
When you are looking at the costs of the lifts, you will also need to take into account the cost of an assisted care facility, which have increased in recent years. The costs of lifts however have remained fairly steady.
Deciding if to stay in your home to accommodate a wheelchair is a difficult decision. Keep in mind there are number of options that can make your home “wheelchair friendly”, you might just have to spend a bit of time doing research.
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