When an unforeseen disability strikes, whether it's due to a fall, stroke, or neurological disorder, it brings about a whirlwind of changes. As you recover and plan to return home, a new set of challenges arises. Most homes were not designed with disabilities in mind, but fortunately, there are solutions available to help navigate these obstacles quickly and effectively. In this blog post, we will explore common challenges faced by individuals returning home after experiencing a disability and the accessible solutions that can be installed to promote independence and safety.
Front Door Steps and Thresholds
Front door steps or thresholds can present significant challenges for individuals with mobility impairments. Fortunately, there are various solutions available to address these obstacles and promote accessibility. Installing a handrail can provide stability and assistance for individuals with mild mobility limitations or who require additional support while navigating steps. This relatively simple addition can greatly improve safety and ease of access. In cases where steps or thresholds are more significant barriers, modular ramps or threshold ramps are excellent options. These ramps offer quick and efficient solutions, allowing individuals using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids to enter and exit the home easily. The installation of these ramps typically does not require a permit, making it a convenient choice for homeowners. If space constraints make it challenging to install a traditional wheelchair ramp, vertical platform lifts can be a viable alternative. These lifts can safely transport individuals in wheelchairs or mobility devices vertically, providing access to elevated areas. However, it's important to note that vertical platform lifts may require electrical permits and come at a higher cost than modular or threshold ramps
Narrow doorways can present significant barriers for individuals using wheelchairs or other mobility aids. However, there are practical solutions available to improve accessibility and enable easy movement throughout the house. One effective solution is the installation of swing-away hinges. These hinges allow the door to swing completely clear of the doorway, creating the necessary clearance for wheelchair users to pass through comfortably. By using swing-away hinges, narrow doorways can be modified to accommodate mobility aids without the need for extensive renovations or door widening. Swing-away hinges offer a practical and cost-effective way to enhance accessibility in homes with narrow doorways. They can be installed on interior and exterior doors, providing greater freedom of movement and improving the overall accessibility of the living space. Below is a great video explaining how the swing-away hinges work.
Stairways and Stairlifts
Stairways leading to upper floors can pose challenges for individuals with mobility limitations. Stairlifts offer an effective solution, providing safe and convenient access. For homes with straight staircases, straight stairlifts are a popular choice. These can typically be installed within a day and have a price range of $3500 to $4500. They offer a cost-effective solution to enable individuals to navigate the stairs comfortably and independently.In the case of curved staircases, custom-made solutions are necessary. While they require more time for installation (around 4 to 5 weeks) and come with a higher price tag (ranging from $16000 to $22000), they provide the same benefits of safe and convenient access to upper levels. Compared to installing an elevator, curved stairlifts remain a more affordable option. Elevators involve significant construction and modification costs, making them a much more expensive choice. When considering accessibility options for homes with staircases, stairlifts are a practical and economical choice. They offer individuals the ability to move freely and safely between floors, improving independence and quality of life. Here is a video of Wendell & Sue's Story that you might find helpful.
Bathrooms and Wet Areas
Bathrooms present unique challenges and pose hazards, particularly for individuals with mobility limitations. However, there are various solutions available to enhance accessibility and safety in this important room. Curbed showers and traditional bathtubs can be difficult to access for individuals with mobility impairments. Installing grab bars strategically throughout the bathroom provides additional support and stability, reducing the risk of falls. Additionally, products like the SuperPole can be installed near toilets or bathing areas to assist with transfers and provide leverage. Innovative products such as ShowerGlyde offer an alternative to traditional tub or shower access. These solutions promote sliding into the tub or shower rather than stepping, making it easier and safer for individuals with limited mobility to bathe. This can greatly improve independence and reduce the risk of accidents. For individuals who require caregiver assistance, the Showerbuddy line of products offers a cost-effective way to convert a bathtub into an accessible shower. These products eliminate the need for a full bathroom remodel, providing a more affordable and efficient solution to create an accessible bathing area. Below are two videos you might find useful. The first one shows the ease and simplicity of using the ShowerGlyde system. The second video explains the multiple ranges of Showerbuddy systems.
Enhancing accessibility in the home is vital for promoting independence, safety, and overall well-being. By incorporating appropriate accessibility solutions, individuals can transform their homes into safer and more accommodating spaces. Consulting with accessibility professionals, occupational therapists, or certified aging-in-place specialists is highly recommended. These experts have the knowledge and expertise to assess your home layout, understand your specific needs, and recommend suitable modifications and products. An accessibility professional can evaluate various aspects of your home, such as entrances, hallways, doorways, bathrooms, and kitchens. They can suggest modifications like installing ramps, lifts, or stairlifts for easier mobility, widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or walkers, installing grab bars and handrails for stability and support, and adapting bathrooms and kitchens to ensure convenience and ease of use. Occupational therapists and certified aging-in-place specialists can provide valuable insights into creating an environment that supports independent living and addresses specific challenges related to disabilities or aging. They can assess your unique needs and recommend modifications, adaptive equipment, and strategies to enhance safety, accessibility, and functionality within your home. By implementing these recommended changes, individuals can enjoy a more inclusive and functional home environment that supports their independence and well-being. Creating an accessible home improves physical access and enhances confidence, peace of mind, and quality of life. Investing in home accessibility modifications and seeking professional guidance is a proactive step toward creating a safe, comfortable, and inclusive living space.