Renovating a home to make it more appropriate for people with disabilities is a multi-tier process. If you want to adapt your home in the best way possible, you’ll need a comprehensive approach. Depending on the condition of the person who will be living there, the order of works can be changed – or some people, building a wheelchair ramp might be more important than lowering kitchen cabinets.
The following renovation ideas are among the most important ones to make your home accessible.
Bringing the Kitchen Down
People in wheelchairs will have serious difficulties using the kitchen unless this space is changed to fit their abilities. For starters, the sink and the counter area need to be lowered. Even if you’re not in a wheelchair but you can’t stand independently, this intervention will make all kitchen activities much easier. Leaving the kitchen cabinets on the wall is not an option as it will render them useless to a person with a disability. You’ll need to bring the entire kitchen down, from the sink to the cabinets and shelves. Lowering the entire structure by some 20 inches will make the cooking experience more comfortable. It might inspire you to cook more and eat healthier food, as well.
Key Bathroom Interventions
The bathroom is one of the most delicate parts of the home, accessibility-wise. This space is often slippery or damp, which increases the risk of injuries. That’s why it’s important to make changes to bathrooms to suit aging people or people with disabilities. Since bathrooms have numerous different parts, this renovation process requires an especially meticulous approach. In line with that, it would be convenient to replace a traditional bathtub with a walk-in shower enclosure. This will reduce the hazard of slipping while having a shower or a bath.
People with disabilities need an adapted toilet, as well. On the one hand, you can choose from a variety of ready-made accessible toilets. On the other hand, the existing toilet can be adapted to your needs, depending on the extent of your disability. For instance, adding a removable riser to the toilet is a practical solution if people with and without disabilities live together in a home. Likewise, installing grab bars by the toilet is a practical option.
Finally, lowering the bathroom sink is another hack that will enhance its usability in this context.
Home Front Access
Most homes have several stairs leading up to the porch. People with disabilities can hardly enter such homes independently. That’s why these features need to be replaced either with a wheelchair ramp or an elevator. The former is an acceptable option if the person in question can use his/her arms. It’s important to make sure that the ramp is installed under a proper angle so that the ascent is not too steep.
The type of ramp you’re going to install will depend on the type of your wheelchair. They come in different sizes and with various features. It might be wise to go through a wheelchair buying guide to choose the most appropriate ones for your needs. After that, you can have a tailor-made ramp installed for your wheelchair.
On the other hand, a wheelchair elevator is for people who can’t use their arms or hands. In that case, you might not need to remove the porch stairs but only add the elevator to the entrance area.
We’ve pointed out that bathtubs should be replaced with walk-in showers. This is the paradigm for all your rooms and the flooring in each one: removing the barrier to let in the wheelchair. So, this shower cabin should be installed without a doorstep to ease the access for the wheelchair. Similarly, if you want to make your home accessible, have all the doorsteps removed, as well as the threshold at the entrance.
If there are no flooring obstacles, you’ll be able to move freely around your home, both in a wheelchair or on crutches. Also, avoid any elevated or lowered areas on the flooring. Ideally, the entire flooring will be on the same level.