How to Adapt Rooms in Your House for Those with Disabilities
With over 53 million adults living in the United States with a disability, there’s plenty of information available on how to help accommodate them in the house. Despite there being multiple factors to consider when adapting a home for someone with disabilities, with a little bit of research and a caring attitude, most obstacles can be overcome.
Whether you’ve lived in the same home all your life, or are moving to a new one, adapting your house doesn’t have to be a drain on your energy or your wallet. Here are a few ways to make your home more comfortable and accommodating to those with disabilities.
- Make your home more accessible
If your loved one uses a wheelchair or other wheeled support structure, the first thing that needs to be done is to ensure your home can accommodate for these devices. Get rid of raised thresholds and use a ramp to fill the step between one part of the house to another. Install access ramps from the driveway to the garden and in other areas of the house that could be challenging to access. If your home has several floors, think about whether a chair lift (or stair glide) is in your budget. Additionally, you may want to swap out thick rugs for hardwood floors or low-pile carpets—long carpet fibers could get stuck in wheels.
Another way to adapt your house is to make sure your doorways are wide enough for a wheelchair to fit through. It’s recommended that doorways be at least 32 inches wide to easily accommodate a wheelchair or walker. Make the correct measurements to determine if you need to expand your doorways, and while you’re at it, measure the distance to light switches, door knobs, and faucets to see if they can be reached easily.
- Think about the bathroom
For those with disabilities, the bathroom often presents the most challenges, simply because it’s the place where independence and autonomy issues come to the forefront. Use a bath chair (with straps, if needed) to allow those with sitting or standing issues to bathe comfortably. Handles may be sufficient in the bathtub for those with greater mobility. If you have the means, you could also consider installing a bath transfer system or barrier free shower. These options allow for more privacy and a greater sense of freedom. Installing handrails or handles near the toilet also ensures safer transfer and minimizes the risk of a fall.
- Be aware of the details
Making your way around with a disability is all in the details. Adapt common areas with dormitory-style amenities to increase ease of use. Adding small appliances like a mini fridge, coffee maker, or microwave to a family room area can make it much easier for those with disabilities to gain access to these items (just be sure they know how to use each appliance properly, and if they don’t, offer them assistance). If possible, you can install an in-home intercom system. This way, you’ll be able to quickly check in on loved ones while still giving them their privacy and independence.
- Assess pain points
Walk around your house and determine what could be a hazard or pain point for your loved one with a disability. Are there loud noises coming from a broken washer and dryer, flickering light bulbs that are about to burn out, or exposed wires poking out from any of your appliances? If you notice any of these issues, get them fixed as soon as possible with a home warranty or other appliance protection plan to minimize the risk of an injury.
Kay Carter is a writer from Raleigh, NC. When she isn’t writing about interior design or real estate, she enjoys reading, traveling, and practicing photography.