Accessibility in Your Home
How to Make Your Home Wheelchair-Friendly
To enhance accessibility in your home, consider the following tips that are designed to help make it easier to "navigate" around your home and enjoy greater independence.
- When assistive devices are being used in the home, there is sometimes
a problem with doorways being too narrow. Some hardware stores have
hinges that allow the door to open and drop back in line with the frame
and provide an extra few inches for access.
the trim around the inside edge of the door from the floor to the
midway point of the frame. This will add an extra half inch to the door
way and may be enough to allow a wheelchair or walker to pass through to
provide greater accessibility in your home.
- Remove standard doors and have bypass doors installed that use overhead tracks.
in your home also includes making meal preparation easier. Mount an
adjustable mirror above the stove if you are in a wheelchair so you can
see into the pots on the stove from your chair.
a "reacher" to use for turning burners off and on if they are located
across the back of the stove. This is helpful for persons using a
wheelchair, as well as someone with restricted movement in their
shoulders and arms.
- Buy a roll of that "waffle" or
non skid shelf liner at the hardware or kitchen store and cut into
circles that fit over jar lids. It makes opening jars and bottles
- Specialty stores sell cutlery with large
handles for people with arthritis or impaired use due to stroke. They
are expensive. Try wrapping your own kitchen utensils with foam pipe
wrap from the hardware store.
- Another option for
enhanced accessibility in your home is to buy a long handled parfait
spoon and bend the handle into a loop. This allows the user to wrap
their fingers around the loop and does not require them to grip as
- As we age our eyes take longer to adjust
to the darkness. Use night lights to provide greater accessibility in
your home after dark whether for nocturnal visits to the fridge or to
make night time trips to the bathroom safer.
sure phones have oversize lit key pads so they can be easily seen and
used in an emergency. Do not program 911 into the auto dial on the
phone. If it is touched in error a call will go out and waste valuable
emergency services time and resources.
- Phones that
must be turned on or off by pushing a button are a good choice. Do not
place the bedroom phone on the floor next to the bed or on a soft piece
of furniture such as a chair or footstool. This may sound logical but
many a relative has been frantic when they could not reach Granny for
hours, only to drive 50 miles and find the phone off the hook.
battery operated lights in closets or cupboards that do not have lights
in them. Put scarves, hats and gloves in baskets that can be easily
reached to avoid stretching to reach the top shelf.
- There are all sorts of gadgets out there to automate lights indoors
and out. Have lights on near your home entrance and from the driveway to
the door. If you arrive home with a car full of parcels wait until
daylight to unload them to reduce the chance of tripping.
turning lights off or on is difficult, there are peddles that can be
stepped on to activate lamps and lamp bases that only need to be touched
to turn on the light.
- A tennis ball cut and slipped over a door knob also makes it easier to grip and turn.
with large round tops are also easier to manage. If possible get new
keys made with these tops. Some have rubberized, color rims on them for
easier grip and identification on a full key chain.
zippers on clothing or other items are hard to manage, add a tassel,
large loop or cord so stiff fingers don't have to work so hard.
a chair or bench close to the entrance so there is a place to sit and
remove or put on shoes. Bending over or standing up too quickly can
- Rearrange furniture, such as foot
stools and side tables, to allow for wider walkways.
This article was written by Deborah Baker of Silvercross Stair Lifts.
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