Changes to Your Home for a Wheelchair Person
Chances are you’ll unexpectedly find someone in your family needing a wheelchair. When this occurs, you may need to make several changes to make your home more manageable for them. How long they’re estimated to stay in a wheelchair may help you identify the number of modifications you will have to make.
An easy first step is to get rid of any loose area rugs or carpets which could slide around. Adding furniture coasters or small blocks of wood under table legs can increase the height of a table or desk and allow it to be more accessible to the wheelchair. Position furniture so there’s a minimum of a 32-inch path as well as a 5-foot turning radius.
Flooring surfaces ought to be non-slip, especially in bathrooms. A hand-held shower hose/nozzle system may also be helpful. There are numerous other aides designed for helping with bathing, including a water powered ascending/descending power seat.
Adding a wedge shaped piece of wood or metal to high door thresholds can serve as a mini ramp. This may also be desirable wherever floor elevations change slightly. A drop leaf table or roll away cart may also help with workspace areas, particularly in the kitchen. Appliances with easy to get to controls could be desirable in the kitchen.
More extensive modifications can consist of changing round doorknobs to lever-type handles. Narrow doorways can be replaced with pocket doors, or merely just a curtain. Adding a string to the door handle can make it easier for the wheelchair user to shut the door after themselves.
In the bathroom, change from a vanity style to a pedestal sink. Add lever type handles on the faucets in the bathroom and kitchen to make them simpler and easier to control. Switching out the standard toilet to a higher, narrower elevated commode chair, and adding grab bars may perhaps be necessary.
For getting in and out of the home, you may need at least one ramp. Having the ramp in a sheltered area like a carport or garage can make getting in and out of vehicles more secure. All ramps should have a maximum slope of a 1-inch drop for each 12-inch length.
For safer passage, gravel walkways need to be paved. The mailbox should be positioned where easily reached. Making any of these changes can make the home more manageable for wheelchair users.