Do you have to significantly modify your home for disabilities? Or simply need to accommodate the ever-changing needs of those around you? As our elders (colloquially known as the ‘baby- boomer’ generation) begin to reach retirement, their mobility may also begin to decrease. A few household alterations can be put in place to maintain a comfortable and easy home life. This option is fairly affordable and keeps our loved ones closer to us and in a place they are familiar and happy with.
1. Widen Doorways so that the entrances/ exits are wheelchair friendly
When wheelchairs are used inside, it is important that there is enough space for the individual to move between rooms with ease. It should be noted that doors must be at least 32″ wide to allow for wheelchairs to comfortably pass through. Ensure that both sides of the doorways are clear (no cracks in the ground or toys which are thrown around). This can work to prevent freak accidents or potentially worsening a pre-existing condition.
2. Install smart technology switches to control surroundings easily
We live in a generation now where technology plays a very important part of making our lives easier. Modifying your home for disabilities can also include giving back the disabled individual their sense of independence. To name a few, this may include using their TV, using light switches, or turning on speakers. A common suggestion would be to create your own smart home. This would allow all parts of the house to be controlled from a single tablet, phone, computer, etc.
Another useful tip would be to purchase an apple watch, as it comes with an inbuilt safety feature. This feature automatically alerts emergency services if the owner happens to collapse and not make any movement for roughly a minute.
3. Add railings to hold onto around the house
This one may seem like common sense, but can be easily forgotten in the midst of the complicated renovation work. By simply adding railings around the house, they will provide constant support for those who struggle to walk independently. Having railings, can also assist in strengthening the leg muscles of individuals, particularly the elderly, whilst acting as a support for them.
An important place for railings is the bathroom, which should be further accommodated to be disability friendly.
4. Place ramps/ chairlifts in the place of stairs
For those with weaker bodies, it could be useful to install ramps/ Stairlifts in place of stairs. This would remove the difficulties of climbing up and downstairs, which could also minimize any risk of injuries. Speaking from experience, it also makes a pretty cool ride when children come over and see you coming down the stairs on a Stairlift.
If inserting a ramp up and down the stairs, it is important to consider the friction of the surface. This is important as if there is too little friction, a wheelchair may slide all over the place with no warning. However, if too much friction is involved, the individual may have to exert excess energy to get to where they want to be. A suggestion would be to hire a team that are experienced and able to accommodate the needs of your house and the disabled individual.
However, if the gradient is too steep to insert a ramp or you simply do not want to remove your stairs, then a Stairlift may be more appropriate. Stairlifts should also be inserted by experienced professionals who can accommodate your needs. Stairlifts remove the burden of manually going. up or downstairs, as all individuals must do is sit in the chair, choose their speed, and hold on as it moves.
Whether an individual requires a wheelchair or crutches, having a larger space takes away the stress of accidentally running someone or something over, or crashing into the sides. Thus, making your home more spacious could allow the individual to feel less worried about any accidents.
This can be done in a few ways, such as
Knocking down walls that may be inconveniently placed (with. the council’s approval)
Removing large items, such as cabinets or benches
Instead of leaving your belongings out, create more storage space and pack them away
When choosing to modify your home for disabilities, ensure that you plan everything out with the disabled individual, so that the modifications fully accommodate their needs. It is important to remember that these modifications may take some time, however, will ultimately be worth it. Remember, the only constant in life is changing and what better way to reflect that than to switch up your own house?