September 8, 2015 | 10:41 am | By Pants Up Easy
If you or a loved one have recently become a wheelchair user, it’s important that your home be as easy to maneuver as possible. If you live in an older home, it may be more difficult for you to make your home compatible with life in a wheelchair, as older home typically were built on a smaller scale. Newer homes tend to have an “open concept” that makes it much easier to modify to suite the needs of a wheelchair user.
Depending on your home, there may be some things that need to be done that will require a major renovation, or in the most extreme circumstances, a move may be in your best interest. However, there are at least a few things that can be done immediately to make a substantial difference. Below you will find five ways to make your home wheelchair accessible.
Getting inside your home will be a frequent challenge as a wheelchair user. Adding a direct and easily maneuverable path to the door will cut down on frustration. The surface will need to be firm and level, but also have enough traction for those who will be walking on the path. If you must climb stairs to get inside, you will need to install a ramp. You may also need to install a ramp at the door if the threshold is more than one half inch in height.
This step requires no actual updates to your home, but is absolutely essential. Wheelchair users need adequate space to move throughout the home, and clutter can absolutely get in the way. Remove everything that could potentially cause an issue. Potted plants will need to be moved to corners of rooms, side tables may need to find a new home, decorative items will need to be moved up high and out of the way – basically anything that isn’t actually attached to the floor that could possibly hinder the wheelchair user from being able to move about the home as they please should find a new place.
While thick carpeting may be a nice thing to have, it can be a nightmare for a wheelchair user. If you have the means, updating your flooring can make a major difference. You should also remove all throw rugs from the floor, as these could potentially cause quite a problem as they tend to shift. If you are able, replace thick carpeting with either carpet that is no higher than one half inch, or a hard flooring surface.
Bathing is yet another task that can be quite frustrating for those in a wheelchair. If you are able, replace your tub and shower combo with a shower stall. Wheelchair users can easily wheel into stalls, and a shower seat is essential. You may also consider installing a hand held showerhead as well in order to make the bathing process easier. There are also walk-in tub options that can be good for those with limited mobility, although you cannot wheel your chair into them. If you are able to transfer from your chair to the walk in tub, this could also be a good solution.
Grab bars are essential in a wheelchair accessible home. Both in the shower and surrounding the toilet, they are necessary to provide support and leverage for the wheelchair user during transfers. An alternative to grab bars near the toilet would be Pants Up Easy, which is a product that allows wheelchair users to easily pull up their pants. Available in either a wall mount, wall frame, or freestanding model, Pants Up Easy makes the task of visiting the toilet much easier.
These five things will make a major difference when it comes to the ease of living in your home as a wheelchair user. While more modifications may need to be made over time, these tips are certainly a good place to get started.