To have a home that is easy to navigate is an essential part of preserving one’s dignity. Those of us who don’t experience limited mobility may take this for granted. However, life can and does throw curveballs, whether it’s experiencing an immobilizing injury or suddenly taking care of someone with limited mobility, such as an older adult parent. Chances are you or a loved one of close proximity will experience some form of limited mobility in your lifetime. Perhaps you’re in that situation yourself now. Maybe, such an instance has yet to befall you, but you’re eager to prepare. We have put together a list that features a few items we believe every home should have to truly be handicap accessible.
RAMPS: Usually, one of the first items we think of when having to adapt a home to disability is navigating stairs. Even if you only have a couple of steps between your doorway and stoop, these can still be difficult for someone with limited mobility. Thankfully, there are plenty of ramp solutions. There are portable and permanent options available, interior and exterior, in different sizes depending on whether one is using a walker, wheelchair, or other mobility aid.
Whether the limited mobility is temporary or impermanent, there are plenty of solutions for stair navigation.
BATHROOMS: Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone, including those with full mobility. More often than not, in the home, these accidents occur in the bathroom. However, diminishing that possibility is possible. For one, having grip bars is an easy way for one to maintain or catch their balance. You can purchase either permanent or temporary suction fixtures that are removable. But preventing a slip in the first place, one needs to consider how to make the floor itself as slip-resistant as possible. For this, have a non-slip bath mat at the threshold of the shower. We recommend one with strong suction cups so that it will keep secure to the ground.
HANDRAILS: We suggested having grips around the bathroom, and honestly, you should consider having them throughout the house, specifically the more highly used areas such as a hallway. You’ll also want these in areas where there aren’t other furniture items that aren’t within arm’s reach for needed support. For someone with limited mobility, handrails truly can make a complete world of difference.
REORGANIZE ITEMS AT EYE LEVEL: Reaching for items can be extremely difficult, or impossible in some cases, for one with limited mobility Being able to easily access regular use items such as clothing, food, toiletries, books, and tools, is imperative in preserving one’s personal independence. This may involve lowering pantry shelves and closet rods. Keep in mind the person’s height when navigating–as they may be in a mobility device such as a wheelchair or scooter, and the ability to bend or reach over.
DOORKNOBS: The regular doorknob can be difficult to grip for some people, as some materials can be more slippery than others. For best access, consider replacing doorknobs with push bars, levers, or automatic doors. None of these solutions require a giant overhaul. Push bars and levers can be a DIY project, and automatic doors can be installed by a variety of professional companies.