With over 3 million wheelchair users in the United States, many people know someone who has struggled to gain access to public places. Restaurants, malls and other public areas all over the country present significant difficulties to people bound to a complex rehab chair or other mobility device.
Unfortunately, the situation often does not improve when they return home. Many people struggle to reach the upper floor of their homes. There are also significant problems with obstacles that make navigating around the property inconvenient.
It doesn’t have to be this way, however. There are a number of measures which can make your home wheelchair accessible. If you have recently had a lifechanging injury or want to improve accessibility to your home, consider taking these steps.
Install an Elevator or Stairlift
Moving from the ground floor to the second can be a time-consuming and exhausting process for a wheelchair-user. It also risks injury from a fall.
For these reasons, a stairlift or elevator can improve your quality of life. There are all sorts of solutions available on the market now, meaning that a stairlift can be fitted to any size and shape of the home.
You can find out more about installing a stairlift here.
Change Your Floor
One of the first issues that new wheelchair users notice is the sheer effort of moving across the floor of your home in a wheelchair. Why?
It’s all down to the floor that you have in your home. With the vast majority of homes having carpets in most of the rooms, wheelchair users immediately face a challenge.
The sheer friction between carpet and a wheelchair’s rubber wheels increases the physical effort of moving around the home. You can avoid this by changing the floor on the ground level of the property.
Two ideal alternatives are hardwood flooring and ceramic tiles. Both of these materials are incredibly durable, ideal for fighting against wear and tear from your wheelchair’s wheels.
If you are working on a tighter budget, vinyl flooring is a good alternative. It is durable and resistant to water.
Adapt Your Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the most challenging areas of the home for a disabled person. For this very reason, it’s one of the first places that you should adapt to your situation.
The key is to ensure that there is enough space to turn your wheelchair, without knocking into any of the fittings. Stripping out the bath and relying exclusively on the shower could provide this room.
Another consideration is the toilet. Make sure that there is plenty of free space in front of it as well as some rails.
Speaking of rails, there should be plenty of these insides of the shower space too.
For a more complete list of what you can do, check out this blog.
Handrails Around the House
Handrails shouldn’t just be installed in the bathrooms of your home. You should take advantage of these to make access to all parts of your property significantly easier.
Handrails will allow you to move from your wheelchair to seats and holding points throughout your house.
For this reason, install handrails close to any seating or facilities in your house. This could be close to the television and radio as well as inside the kitchen.
Think About Doors and Entryways
Able-bodied people have probably never considered the doors and entries to their home, but these can become a significant problem for disabled people.
The US Government has laid down legislation which means that there is a well-established set of standards in place for doorways, which should work well with all types of wheelchairs available on the market.
So, before you call a builder, reach for that tape measure. As long as the width of the doors is at least 32 inches, you should be able to get through with any commercially available wheelchair.
You may find that it is actually best to remove the doors completely, as they only provide inconvenience when moving around in the property.
Stairs Out, Ramps In
Whether you have limited mobility or are a wheelchair-user, stairs can provide a significant risk to people from all walks of life. For this reason, you should remove these and install ramps in your home as soon as it’s conveniently possible.
Many homes have a step up from street level. Even a single step can provide a challenge to a wheelchair-user.
Adding a ramp in place of a step is a small change that could make a big positive impact on your life.
Simplify Your Furniture
Once you have your ramps and rails installed around your home, it is time to deal with the furniture.
You can help yourself by simplifying your furniture.
Focus your efforts on the key passageways inside your home. The living area to the kitchen, and then up to the stairlift and upper floors should be completely free of clutter and furniture.
Ask a friend to come and assist you and give a second opinion on the re-arranged furniture. You would be surprised how a few small changes can lead to a much better living quality within your home.
Update Your Phones
Inside your home, you may have landlines installed that are inaccessible for your situation as a wheelchair-user. This means that it’s time to upgrade.
You should abandon your hard landlines and replace them with easily accessible cordless phones. These can be placed anywhere in the property and help you to reach the phone quickly.
Lower Your Kitchen Countertop
Your kitchen represents another major challenge for using your home. You will have to adapt it to ensure a good quality of life.
Firstly, you should lower the countertop in order to allow you better access. You should also have these counters adapted so that your wheelchair can fit underneath it.
This should make cooking and preparing food much easier.
Tiny Steps to Make Your Home Wheelchair Accessible
It is undeniable that being wheelchair-bound poses difficult challenges for a user, both at home and in public.
However, by making a number of small steps to make your home wheelchair accessible, you can make your quality of life a lot better.
Even a few of these changes can be of major benefit, so consider what changes you can put in place quickly to help with your housing situation.