How Can I Make my Home Better for a Physically Challenged Person?

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 HouseWheel chair ramp

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Consider simplifying the landscaping so there is less maintenance.
  4. Add handrails to assist in walking.
  5. Consider adding a bench to stop and sit at if the walkway is long.
  6. Make sure each outside door, and inside door for that matter, is wide enough for a wheel chair.
  7. 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.
  8. A key less entry may be a great idea to help with entering or exiting the home.

Bathrooms

This is probably the area that is the first one people realize is going to cause problems.ADA compliant bathroom

  • 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.

Kitchen

  • 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.

ADA compliant kitchen
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.

DoorsStairwell elevator chair

Use larger doors as they are easier to get through and often don’t cost anymore. 32-inch doors or larger are recommended.

Stairs

Do yourself a favor and eliminate being in a home with stairs. If you cannot eliminate stairs than here are a few options:

Other Home Accessories to Consider

Transportation

Final Thoughts

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.

 

 

14 Comments on “How Can I Make my Home Better for a Physically Challenged Person?”

  1. Hi, Rick and thanks for spreading some light on what to think about when taking care of Physically Challenged Persons. My parents have just become 80 years old and are still living in their house so I really have to start thinking about these things. It’s hard to talk to them about it but it’s better to start in time so it gets less stressful when it’s time.

    Regards, Jan

    1. Hi Jan. I agree this is a difficult topic to bring up but it would be better if they would contribute to the discussion and could make their wishes known without having to rely on what you think is the best decision if they were unable to make those decisions on their own.

  2. This is indeed a very useful article concerning the house we build that will be friendly and convenient for the physically handicapped persons.
    Who knows anything can happen in life even if you are presently living without any handicapped member in the family.

    So constructing homes with some extra plans for the physically challenged persons will prove to be useful as well as a great idea.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thank you. I hope this helps people who are currently in this situation or that know it may be coming up. One thing I have already started thinking about is buying a one story house with few steps leading to the house as my senior years will be here faster than I imagine.

      Thank you for the encouraging comments.

  3. Wow this is a very detailed and well-thought out article! Thank you for these insights, I believe many of us are going to have the elderly in our home at one point or another in our lives. This will be a precious resource.

    1. The crazy thing is we all think that when our children have grown up and left home than we’re done taking care of anyone, but how many grandparents help take care of their grandchildren and how many kids end up helping take care of their parents eventually. This is something that many of us may end up dealing with some day.

  4. Hi Rick – thanks so much for sharing very detailed information. My nana suffered a stroke many years back, so I understand the challenges associated with making sure the home is suited to the needs of the physically impaired. I will certainly share your site with those I know who need it.

    1. Thank you. This article may be more for the caregivers than for the stroke patient or anyone with a physical challenge. None of us want to think about this but it’s good to have the resources when problems do arise.

  5. Hi Rick, This post was so well thought out and you came up with great ideas. Having a husband who is disabled I could identify with so many of these things. He is now in frail care but when he comes home it is very difficult to get his wheel chair in and out of the various rooms.

    1. Thank you Jill for sharing your experience. I have had first hand experience also watching my Dad take care of my Mother. Fortunately they moved into a single story condo that was designed for people with physical challenges so I can see all of the things that have become important to them.

  6. Hi Rick,

    Thanks for writing such an informative article on this subject. It’s tough to find information out there when trying to adapt your home for someone with physical challenges.

    I personally like that you mentioned the lower kitchen peninsula. This not only serves as a dining area in a small space it really meets the needs of everyone. I never thought about implementing this before but I think it would be a great addition to many modern apartment/condo spaces.

    Thanks for the write up!

    1. Thank you for bring that up as an important point for many to consider.

      Before my mother’s stroke, I never gave much thought to how physically challenged people get around or the difficulties they had. I just thought it was a small group of people and it was not a big thing to deal with. Wow, was I ever off on that thinking.

      The great thing is that you can incorporate most of the ADA things into your home and most people wouldn’t even know you had. They would just enjoy the extra space and like how easy it is to get around. It’s more important than ever to make sure that everyone, including the caregivers, have better conditions to live and work in.

  7. Excellent list of suggestions. We went through this with my mom and I was surprised how many changes we needed to make.

    Although she wasn’t in a wheelchair at first, she had difficulty picking up her feet and kept tripping on an area rug. We ended up taking all the small rugs out of the home for her safety.

    Another device we got her was a telephone with large numbers and photos for preset dialings. She couldn’t remember numbers so the photos really helped.

    Thank you for an informative article.

    1. Thank you and it was great to hear of another idea with phone. I never thought about photos for preset dialings. I think I could make this list twice as big in another hour or two with just a little more research. 

      There are so many different physical challenges and everyone’s needs will be different. I wish I would never have to think on these things for my family members or myself but as life goes on, the chances that I will have to deal with these increase rapidly.

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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