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  • Writer's pictureChuck Tanner

10 Ways to Make Your Home More Handicap and Disability Accessible

Sudden disabilities or needing additional home assistance can change the way we operate in day-to-day life. In fact, the home can quickly become a challenging space full of obstacles. Stairs, bathrooms, doorways, doorknobs, and certain rooms may suddenly become hazardous, and it may be overwhelming to try and adapt.

Thankfully, there are several ADA and VA approved solutions that exist to make your home life feel as normal as ever. In fact, updating your home can ensure safety, create comfort, and enable autonomous living. Below, explore 10 ways to transform a house into a handicap accessible home for you or your loved ones living with disabilities.

1. Be aware of your surfaces

Surfaces like tile can become quite slick. Hardwood floors, thick rugs, and rough grout can also be hard for those using mobility devices and aids such as walkers and canes. In some cases, it may be best to carpet your surfaces with smooth, even carpeting. Or, perhaps you should replace some rugs that slip and slide easily. Be sure to install proper grip mats in bathrooms and showers. Ensure that all surfaces in your home do not pose any tripping or slipping threats.

2. Rearrange your furniture

Consider the layout of your home. Is your furniture situated so that those with low-mobility or those in wheelchairs can easily get around? Arrange your furniture so that there are no sharp turns or narrow passageways. Make daily use items, such as comfy chairs, bookshelves, and kitchen plates and utensils, easy to access. This may mean moving items to lower shelves for those using mobility devices.

3. Remove bathing barriers

Because of the water factor the bathroom presents many obstacles. Tile becomes extremely hazardous when wet and soapy, and tubs and counter-tops aren’t forgiving surfaces for those prone to falls. The tub can be especially challenging given that tubs have tall sides, creating a tricky physical barrier to entry. Luckily, walk-in tubs eliminate that barrier, allowing users to get into the tub without straddling the side. This creates a much safer experience, reducing the risk of falls.

In addition to creating an easier entry, consider lining your tub with a slip-resistant surface. At ADR, our bathtub solutions include a slip-resistant surface.

4. Replace stairs with ramps

Stairs are a hazard for many, not just those in wheelchairs but for anyone with limited mobility. They also tend to pop up in almost any architectural style. Even if your home is a single-story ranch, you likely have at least one or two steps leading from your stoop to your doorway, or from an interior landing to a living room.

Quick Pro-Tip: a folding ramp can be placed over small staircases (2 or fewer steps).

Several ramp styles exist to meet any needs; collapsible ramps allow for easy storage, portable ramps mean you can quickly transform any step into a wheelchair accessible entry on the go, and threshold ramps make an entryway instantly accessible. Indoor and outdoor home ramps provide safe and reliable room-to-room access for people with walkers, wheelchairs, power chairs, and other mobility aids.

5. Install a stair lift

If you or your loved one finds stairs to be a cumbersome obstacle, consider installing a stair lift. Stair lifts come in a wide variety of styles, and can be installed as a permanent home modification. Stair lifts turn multi-level homes or even front yard steps into accessible homes for those with limited mobility. Installing them will level out your home and create a safe, accessible space.

6. Change The Knobs

Many styles of doorknobs are cumbersome and hard to use for those who have a hard time gripping. Replacing doorknobs with push/pull bars, press lever handles, or even automatic doors will increase your home’s accessibility tremendously.

At ADR, we install automatic doors to increase hands-free living in accessible homes. These doors can be installed both indoors and outdoors, and enable users to open any entrance with the push of a button. Automatic doors can be installed quickly and easily on almost any door type, and may be customized to be activated from a wide range of devices, such as wheelchair control switches, wall push pads, home control systems, and more. Furthermore, automatic doors do not override manual operations, meaning the doors can still be used manually if desired.

7. Place handrails in key areas

For those with poor balance, prone to falls, low mobility, or who simply need help getting up out of chairs, beds, or bathroom areas, well-placed handrails can make a world of difference. Grab rails in the bathroom especially will decrease the risk of falls, and help users lift themselves up from seated positions. They increase independence, and create peace-of-mind.

Solutions such as grab bars enhance bathroom safety.

8. Evaluate The Toilet Area As Well

In addition to the tub, the toilet is another area of the bathroom that can become treacherous for those with disabilities. Handrails eliminate users need to balance as they sit down and stand up from the toilet. Consider installing a simple safety frame around your toilet to increase the user’s comfort and quality of life.

9. Door and Entryway Widening

Updating your doorways and walkways to be ADA compliant one of the most critical parts of making your home into a handicap accessible home. Most doorways can be quickly modified with proper hinges to produce additional room for equipment mobility. Walkway modification is more expensive but can pose safety threats if left un-adapted. We will do our absolute best on providing the easiest and most affordable solution possible.

10. Consult With An Expert

There are many ways to convert your home into an accessible home, and the options may seem overwhelming. At Aspen Design Renovations, we are Certified Aging In Place specialists, and are certified through many construction organizations for ADA home modifications, and equipment installations. We are here every step of the way to advise you on the best solutions for you and your loved ones. Our in-home consultation is free, and we’re dedicated to helping you find the right options for your situation.

Once you’re ready to adapt your home, our team will be with you every step of the way: educating you on the products, design, proper use and safety features, installation and maintenance. Our hope is that your updated home feels safe, comfortable, and accessible, now and for the years ahead!

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