How to Make Your Home More Accessible for Your Wheelchair
For people who use a wheelchair, navigating their home can be a significant challenge. It's essential to make your home more accessible and comfortable to move around in to improve your quality of life. There are several simple changes you can make to your home to make it more wheelchair-friendly. While you may not be able to perform all of these modifications in your home, even adding a few upgrades can significantly improve your mobility and independence.
Assess Your Home
The first step in making your home more wheelchair-accessible is to assess your current living space. Consider what areas of your home are difficult to navigate and identify any potential hazards or obstacles that may pose a danger. Take measurements of doorways, hallways, and other areas to determine if they are wide enough for your wheelchair.
Identify Areas for Improvement
Once you have assessed your home, make a list of areas that need improvement. Focus on the most critical areas first, such as the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. These areas are where you will spend the most time and are essential for your comfort and safety.
One of the most significant obstacles for people who use a wheelchair is narrow doorways. Even if your wheelchair can fit through your current doorways, you’re more likely to bang the edges of the doorframe with your wheels (or your knuckles) if they’re a standard width. Consider widening doorways to at least 32 inches to allow your wheelchair to move through comfortably. You can also install offset hinges or expandable swing-clear hinges to gain an extra inch or two of clearance.
If you have steps leading up to your home or a porch or raised entryway, you will need a ramp to make it wheelchair accessible. You can build a permanent ramp or install a portable ramp that can be moved when needed. Make sure the ramp is sturdy and secure to avoid any accidents, and ensure that the slope is not too steep. Otherwise, you may struggle to get up the ramp in your wheelchair, and run the risk of having your wheelchair roll away with you on the way down!
Lower Countertops and Cabinets
In the kitchen and bathroom, lower countertops and cabinets to make them more accessible for someone in a wheelchair. This will make it easier for you to prepare meals and access your cooking supplies, as well as performing other tasks like simply washing your hands or doing the dishes. Lowering the countertops and cabinets will also give you more independence in the kitchen and control over your own nutrition, which can significantly improve your quality of life and overall sense of wellbeing.
The bathroom is another critical area to focus on when making your home more accessible. Consider installing a roll-in shower or walk-in bathtub that is wheelchair accessible (along with those lower countertops and sinks we mentioned earlier). Install grab bars and a shower seat to make showering safer and more comfortable. Also, consider raising the toilet seat or installing a raised toilet to make it easier to use.
Install a Stairlift or Elevator
If you have stairs in your home, consider installing a stairlift or residential elevator to make them more accessible. A stairlift is a chair that runs up and down the stairs on a track. It's an excellent solution for people who have difficulty climbing stairs but don't want to move to a single-story home. However, you can’t bring your wheelchair along for the ride, which means you’d need to have another wheelchair for the upper floor of your home, and ensure that it’s reachable from your stairlift so you can make an easy transition.
If you don’t want to worry about these transitions, a residential elevator is another alternative. Though more expensive to install, and requiring more drastic alterations to your home, it does allow you to simply roll inside the elevator cab in your wheelchair and more easily move between floors.
The type of flooring you have in your home can make a big difference in your ability to navigate your space. Consider installing hardwood, laminate, or tile flooring that is smooth and even. Avoid thick carpet or rugs that can be difficult to maneuver a wheelchair over.
Make sure your home is well lit to avoid any accidents or injuries. Install bright lights in hallways, stairways, and other areas of your home to ensure you can see where you're going. Consider adding motion sensors to lights so they turn on automatically when you enter a room.
At Medical Xpress, we offer a wide range of wheelchairs and accessibility improvements to help make your home more accessible. Contact us today to find the right wheelchair, walker, scooter, or other mobility device for your mobility needs. Don't let your home's lack of accessibility hold you back—take action today to make your home more wheelchair-friendly.