Looking to make your home more accessible? It can be difficult to know where to start. Whether you’re fully renovating, or looking for some easy modifications for your home, consider the following items in order to make your home as easily accessible as possible.
When one’s mobility is limited, it is crucial to modify immediate living surroundings in order to make moving around at home and in daily life as simple and easy as possible. There are two main ways to do this, structural adjustments, and interior modifications. When working to make your home more accessible, make sure that you consider the following items.
No Step Entryways
This is an important adjustment for both the front entrance of your home and the backyard entrance. Make sure that there is no gap between the door and the outside, making it easier to enter and exit your home with or without a wheelchair.
Doorways should be 36 inches wide to accommodate most mobility devices like walkers or wheelchairs.
Reinforced Stabilizing Areas
Things like towel bars can be reinforced to create stabilizers in each of your bathrooms without changing anything about the aesthetics.
Automatic Door Openers
Automatic door openers make it easiest to get in and out of your home if you use a mobility device.
Install a hand rail system for your front entryway to make entering and exiting your home easier.
Electric Stair Lift
Electric stair lifts are a simple and easy solution for homes that have multiple floors where a revised layout is undesirable, or simply not an option.
A bathtub should be at least 40 inches wide and be low enough to walk into without much effort.
Elevators are the most effective solution for limited accessibility in multi-level homes, and have the advantage of keeping all floors of the home in use.
If possible, pocket doors are the easiest for wheelchair access.
When renovating your home for mobility, consider the layout. Is it possible to make your bedroom on the main floor? Should the main lounge area really be in the basement? Make the areas of your home that you use most on the same level to make your layout more accessible as you age.
Levers Instead Of Doorknobs
Levers are easier to grip than traditional doorknobs, and don’t put as much strain on the wrist.
Carpets And Runners On Stairs
Stairs can be particularly slippery, especially if they are laminate or hardwood. Mitigate the possible danger with carpet runners up the stairs, and have reinforced rugs on slippery surfaces.
ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING
Activities of daily living refer to the minutia of daily life. Things like washing, feeding oneself, opening doors and turning on taps, and grooming. The most helpful tools regarding ADLs are simple and easy to input.
Adjustable beds look exactly like regular beds when they are laid flat, but have the option to be raised and lowered, making it easier to get in and out of bed without assistance.
Replace Kitchen Cabinets With Pull Out Shelves
Reaching to the back of the cupboards can be difficult. Having shelving mechanisms that pull out allows for easier access to kitchen items.
Appliances that are front loading as opposed to top loading and appliances that have controls on the front of the machine instead of the front or the top.
No Door on the shower, a shower bench, controls as close to the outside of the shower as possible. Having shower knobs on the outside of the shower makes it safer because there is less risk for slipping and burns. Shower benches can be incorporated right into the redesign of a new bathroom, allowing it to fit seamlessly into your aesthetic without being unsightly.
Lower Light Switches
Position light switches 42 inches off the floor that are easily accessed by wheelchair but also comfortable to access from standing.
All seating in living rooms should be more than 18 inches off the ground for easy sitting and standing.
Non-Slip Bathroom Accessories
Avoid ceramic tile in the bathroom, and have a non-slip mat in your shower.
Plugs should be more than 13 inches off of the ground so that they are easily accessed without bending down.
Varying Counter Heights
Varying counter heights allows for a kitchen that can be used whether standing or sitting, which is a wonderful asset as you age.
SENSORY & COGNITION
Depending on the severity of the sensory and cognitive disabilities, there are several products and simple solutions that can be implimented in order to maintain independence.
Floors With Grip
Balance can be tricky with aging, so having non-slip surfaces throughout your home is essential. This could involve rubber runners on laminate or hardwood floor, and carpeting on stairwells to create a less slippery surface.
Floors should have an easily seen colour contrast between rooms or on steps to avoid slipping or falling.
Contrasting surface colours help easily identify different surfaces when vision is compromised
Appliances With Large Numbers
Invest in phones and appliances with large and clear numbers for easier use.
Upgraded Lighting Systems
Motion censored lights that are brighter than regular lights are extremely helpful for those who are visually impaired in any way or have trouble with depth perception.
Voice-activated devices such as Alexa or Google Home that allow for easy access to things like music, lighting, and communication without needing to look for it.
Making communication easier is an important part of invisible accessibility. Steps are simple and easy, but can really make a difference for patients with Alzheimer’s, or any difficulty communicating.
Make sure there is a phone that is easily accessible in each room of your home in case of an emergency.
Home Communication Systems
An intercom in your home could be helpful in the event that moving from room to room becomes difficult.
Multiple Writing Surfaces
Particularly helpful for seniors with dementia or memory problems, having easily viewed writing areas (white boards and writing surfaces) throughout the home is a simple solution for reminders.