Monday, March 23, 2009

Adapting the Home for Mobility Access

Sometime in our fifties, we bought a home with an eye on the lifestyle changes in our senior years. We bought a reverse story and a half patio home with an open floor plan. Not until we had to cope with disability did we realize the barriers to mobility that most homes present.

These are what we found out:
  • The doors were not wide enough for wheelchair mobility access. This is especially difficult in the toilet where the door was even smaller. We had to remove the doors for easier access.
  • The stair steps were not wide enough to accommodate a walker. Although there were only two to three steps from the garage or the front porch to the house, the steps were too narrow to plant a walker safely.
  • Shower doors were too narrow for either wheelchair or walker. Taking a shower proved to be a long ritual. We are still struggling with options retrofitting the shower and bathroom, all of them expensive.
  • Kitchen counters can be formidable for someone who is wheelchair bound. Needless to say, reaching up to a built in microwave or over the counter shelves are next to impossible.
  • Getting in and out of the bed can be very difficult for someone with bum legs. There is nothing to grip to pull up.
These are seemingly mundane things and for sure there are remedies as we quickly and by necessity found. But for those nearing their senior years and looking to move to a new home, these should be realistic considerations. At the very least, look for wide doors, wide garage steps and disability friendly bathrooms. These can be added without detracting from the decor. You just never know when you will need them.

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