Sometimes illness, injury, condition, or age requires us to outfit our homes with accessible features so you or a loved one can live comfortably even after a significant life change. Whether you’re adding new features to your own home or assisting a friend or relative, there are many low-cost ways to make a home wheelchair accessible alongside larger renovations. Read on for 5 ways to make your home wheelchair accessible so you can navigate independently and feel right at home.
1. Clear Clutter
To make your home that much more accessible, eliminate clutter as much as possible so there’s no risk of running over stray objects. If you have furniture that doesn’t allow space to navigate past or that blocks access to rooms, move furniture and make sure all rugs are easy to manage in a wheelchair. Although it’s a small fix, cleaning up clutter can make all the difference in a newly-outfitted home.
2. Install Handlebars and Lower Fixtures
Make sure your home has handlebar grips in the bathroom and bedroom. In every room, lower the doorknobs, light switches, and curtain pulls. You may also consider installing a clothesline and a panic button in case you need to call family members or emergency services.
3. Add a Wheelchair Ramp at the Front Door
A wheelchair ramp is especially necessary on a home with front steps but it’s also a good idea for any home. Since most doorways have uneven entry points, even a portable or temporary ramp with no more than a one-inch rise could be the right fit for your home. You may also consider adding a lower peephole so checking when someone rings the doorbell isn’t difficult.
4. Rearrange the Kitchen and Add Rotating Options
In the kitchen, you’ll want to move as many appliances as possible into a location that is most easily accessible. To make sure you still have a workable space in the kitchen, use pull-out cutting boards, lap trays, or the kitchen table in substitute of the higher counters already in your kitchen. You can also add extension arms to a single-lever faucet at the kitchen sink. In the fridge, consider adding a lazy susan or reacher to make fridge contents easier to access. Larger purchases in this area may include a new refrigerator with side-by-side freezer and fridge capabilities and a water dispenser in the door. Families may also consider installing lower countertops to allow their loved ones easier access to everything in the kitchen.
5. Take on Larger Bathroom Renovations
Since the bathroom is one of the most used rooms in a home, the first renovations you take on should definitely be here. If unable to stand in the shower, install a shower seat and grab bars by the toilet and in the bathtub. A toilet riser may also be a good idea to ensure that transfers from the wheelchair are streamlined. Also, you’ll want to replace the flooring with slip-proof material that will prevent any accidents that can take place on a wet floor.
To keep yourself from having to spend thousands up front on a home renovation after a major life change, you may consider relocating activities. For example, if you live in a two-story home, it may make sense until you can install a wheelchair lift or ramp to create a space for eating, sleeping, bathing, and living on just the first floor.
When you add these features to your home, you’re ensuring that it’s far more accessible and functional for all.