Be it for the elderly or for people with limited mobility, such as wheelchair users, you might want to factor accessibility into your next renovation. From grab bars to shower seats, here are some ideas to get you started.
- Grab bars
Grab bars are a must in any accessible bathroom. They are one of the simplest but most effective changes you can make to your home. For independence and ease of use, don’t just limit them to the toilet, but install them in the shower as well. Just make sure to check whether your grab bars require reinforced walls to withstand the needed weight.
Another very simple solution for improved accessibility is to install ramps around the home. If your front door is preceded by a step, replace it with a ramp. Do the same thing with any bumps and steps in every room, until wheelchairs and canes can manoeuvre easily.
- Stair lifts
If your home has a staircase, people with limited mobility will find it difficult to move up and down. If you can afford it, consider implementing a stair lift. This will make disabled people and elders feel much more at ease in your home, and will give them some additional independence of movement.
- Lower height
For certain pieces of furniture in your home, a low height is crucial. Kitchen cabinets are often installed above all other appliances, making them entirely inaccessible. If your home has both top and bottom cabinets, consider moving daily items to the bottom row, and keeping top cabinets for rarer use. Door handles and knobs should also be installed at a lower height if feasible, as they can be hard to reach from a wheelchair.
- Wider doors
Wheelchairs take up a considerable amount of space, and if the doorframe is too narrow, they won’t be able to pass. The minimum width for a wheelchair to pass through a doorway is considered 32 inches. For more comfortable movement, 36 inches is the ideal. Fortunately, you might find that your door is at the correct width already, as most doors are made with this accessible standard in mind.
- Floor space
In order to achieve a comfortable home for wheelchair users, ample floor space is crucial. Look into installing floating furniture and wall-mounted storage that doesn’t occupy room on the ground. This will make for much easier manoeuvring.
- Stable floors
In an accessible home, the ground should move as little as possible. Rugs and carpets are not ideal, but if you want to keep them around, stick them to the floor to secure them, as they can be tricky for both wheelchairs and canes. Laminate floors are the overall safest option that is also easy to maintain, while natural stone can be slippery and thus hazardous. Hardwood floors are a great alternative for a more natural look, although harder to maintain than laminates.
- Smart technology
For people who find it difficult to move and navigate the home, using appliances through apps and voice command is incredibly helpful. Things such as lights, air conditioning, and water heating are made much more accessible when controlled through smart technology.
- Raised bathroom
As opposed to the lowering of kitchen cabinets, sinks and toilets should be raised. This is to allow wheelchair users to fully roll underneath the sink instead of having to reach over it. Toilets, on the other hand, should be raised to the same height as the wheelchair to allow for an easy transfer. If installing new bathroom appliances is outside of your budget, consider attaching a raised toilet seat and removing obstructions under the sink, such as cabinets.
While there are various options for accessible bathtubs, showers are ultimately the easiest to navigate. Make sure to add a seat for comfort and safety, as well as a handheld shower head. If you already have a tub in your home and don’t want to change it to a shower, install a vacuum sealed door or a lift.