You now find yourself in the position of caring for an elderly family member or someone who has had a major health crises that creates real physical challenges. The question in your mind now is, what can I do to change my home, or their home so it’s easier to get around in and do the things you used to do but that are now much harder? Let’s brainstorm on some great ideas to help improve this situation.
Let’s Start With the Outside of the House
- Start by getting rid of any curbs or steps that lead into the house from any door. You may only be thinking of one entrance but it will be convenient and necessary for someone living alone to have all outside exits designed without steps or steep grades.
- You may think it’s best to use a permanent type of material, such as concrete, but you may want to consider a wood ramp or a metal, portable ramp, as you may sell the house later and the new owners may not want or need a ramp.
- Consider simplifying the landscaping so there is less maintenance.
- Add handrails to assist in walking.
- Consider adding a bench to stop and sit at if the walkway is long.
- Make sure each outside door, and inside door for that matter, is wide enough for a wheel chair.
- Be mindful of any bumps at the threshold of the doorway as this can make it difficult to maneuver a wheelchair over and may cause a tripping hazard.
- A key less entry may be a great idea to help with entering or exiting the home.
This is probably the area that is the first one people realize is going to cause problems.
- Get rid of confined spaces, even if you have to tear out a wall or two. This is not just about wheel chair access but many times you will need two people working together in this space to take care of daily hygiene.
- Install a large shower or a bathtub with a door.
- The area around the toilet needs to be wide and free of obstacles.
- Again, all doorways need to be wide enough for a wheel chair or another person helping the physically challenged person to walk.
- Install handrails in the shower, tub, near the toilet and possible on each wall.
- Install an ADA compliant toilet.
- Make sure your shower has a place for someone to sit down.
- Provide a portable chair or bench to use anywhere in the bathroom.
- Ensure there is adequate room beneath any counter top for a wheel chair to fit under.
- Install a shower head that can be disconnected and used by someone sitting down.
- The flooring should have some texture to keep someone from slipping or tripping. Use a low pile carpet if you choose carpet. Don’t use any flooring that is difficult to maneuver a wheel chair around in. Rugs are a bad idea.
- Allow room under that counter tops for someone who can cook but is mostly in a wheel chair.
- Consider lowering sections of the counter top that would be easier for a person in a wheel chair to work at.
- Most of the kitchen tools should be lowered where anyone can reach.
Every person’s needs will be different to take special care to create the right situation for the need. You may want to hire a contractor who specializes in ADA compliant construction.
Use larger doors as they are easier to get through and often don’t cost anymore. 32-inch doors or larger are recommended.
Do yourself a favor and eliminate being in a home with stairs. If you cannot eliminate stairs than here are a few options:
- Build a ramp in your house if there is only one or two steps an if the space allows.
- Install an elevator
- Install a motorized chair that will take you up and down stairs.
Other Home Accessories to Consider
- Hand Rails
- Slip resistant mats
- Portable benches or chairs
- Living room chair that lowers and raises to help getting into or out of
- Large soft utensil grips
- Adult size bib
- Extra towels, hand towels and wash cloths for cleaning up spills
- Adjust light switch heights
- Adjustable beds
- ADA desks
- Set up systems for someone who is blind or deaf
- Ankle brace
- Wheel Chair
- Removable belt for assistant to help the physically challenged person to walk or get up.
- Books on tape, tape recorder
- Headphones for listening to music, books on tape or movies.
- Heating pad
- Warm blanket
- Find help for the care giver
- Vehicle that is easier to get in and out of or one that can handle a wheelchair or electric wheelchair.
- Electric wheelchair
- Electric wheelchair trailer or hitch
These lists are just the beginning of things for you to consider if you are physically challenged or if you are the care giver. Consult your doctor and other health care providers for more specialized information that is specific to your needs.
Remember, to find hope every day and have something to look forward to.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas of other things I have left out and that should be included here.