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Home Improvement

How to make home handicap accessible

10/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

Some homeowners find themselves having to make accessibility adjustments to their homes in anticipation of welcoming elderly, less mobile relatives into their homes.
Photo courtesy of MetroCreativeConnection
Many homeowners have found themselves scrambling to make their homes handicap accessible after a sudden injury or illness. In addition, some homeowners have found themselves looking to make adjustments to their homes in anticipation of welcoming elderly, less mobile relatives into their homes.

Converting a home into a handicap-accessible space can seem like a daunting task that requires adjustments to nearly every part of the house. While the extent of those adjustments depends on the individual who needs to be accommodated, some of the areas homeowners must address when making their homes handicap accessible are universal regardless of the individual’s condition.

Entryways

A home’s entryways often must be addressed when making the home more handicap accessible. Portable ramps can be an affordable option and are often ideal for those who only need to make temporary adjustments, such as when a resident suffers an injury that requires he or she spend some time in a wheelchair. When the adjustments will just be temporary, a folding wheelchair might be necessary, as the doorways might not be able to fit a standard wheelchair that doesn’t fold.

When adjustments figure to be permanent, homeowners might need to expand the doorways in their homes. Contractors typically recommend expanding doorways to at least 32 inches, which provides some maneuverability when wheelchairs, which are typically between 24 and 27 inches wide, are entering the home. Doorways at the most commonly used entryways, including front doors and doors to the bathrooms, as well as the individual’s bedroom, will likely need to be widened.

Bathroom

The bathroom might be the area of the home that needs the most attention. Slippery conditions common to bathrooms can make things especially difficult for people in wheelchairs or with disabilities. Grab bars should be installed in bathtubs and shower stalls and next to toilets.

But grab bars aren’t the only adjustment homeowners should make in the bathroom as they attempt to make a home more handicap accessible. Safety treads, which can provide a secure, slip-free surface on the floors of showers and tubs, can be installed. Add a hand-held showerhead to the shower stall to make it easier for those with a disability to shower. Portable transfer seats, which enable wheelchair-bound men and women to transition from their chairs to showers and bathtubs, can be purchased and kept in or near the bathroom.

Water fixtures

An often overlooked adjustment homeowners must make when transforming their homes into handicap-accessible spaces concerns the sinks throughout the home. Disabled persons might find it difficult to access faucets on sinks throughout the home, especially when there are vanity cabinets beneath the sinks. Replacing such sinks with pedestal sinks can improve maneuverability, but make sure such sinks are lower to the ground than standard pedestal sinks. A sink that’s just a few inches lower than a standard sink is considerably more accessible to people in wheelchairs.

Closets

Closets are rarely handicap accessible. Homeowners can address this issue by creating multi-level closet spaces so individuals can place their clothes at accessible heights. Closet shelves can be lowered and doors can be widened so disabled persons can easily manage their wardrobes. In addition, consider installing a light inside the closet and make sure the light switch can be easily reached from a wheelchair.

Making a home more handicap accessible can be a significant undertaking, but many of the adjustments homeowners must make are small in scale and won’t take long to complete. 

 

This information was provided courtesy of MetroCreativeConnection.

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