There has been great advances in wheelchair accessibility of public places in the last few decades. From accessible curbs to push-button door openers and handicap-friendly public transport, it’s now easier for someone in a wheelchair to go out and enjoy life. In fact, it’s probably easier to navigate city streets in a wheelchair than your own home. Sadly, a home is often the least accessible place for a wheelchair user. In this post, our Maryland home modification experts will discuss how to modify your home to better suit your mobility needs.
If you have a good remodeling budget, widening the door frames is one of those small changes that will make the biggest impact. A wheelchair user needs at least a 32-inch clearance to comfortably pass through a door opening. Many older homes don’t have this much room, so passing through a door frame in a wheelchair is literally a tight squeeze. If door frame widening is not an option, or if you want to make your doorways even more accessible, here are a few other modifications you can try:
- Unhinge the doors between the rooms—curtains can be hung for privacy if needed.
- Install expandable offset door hinges on doors that have to remain in place. These hinges allow the door to swing fully open and out of the way, so you gain about 2” in doorway width.
- Install automatic door openers on frequently-used doors.
- Replace swing-open doors with sliding pocket doors for more convenience.
Achieving accessibility in your own kitchen is not easy, but possible. Extensive remodeling is needed to ensure that all the cooking surfaces, switches and appliances are within your reach. Some or all of the following modifications may be necessary in order to make a kitchen wheelchair-friendly:
- Lowering the counters to 30”
- Removing lower base cabinets to provide leg room
- Adding roll-out or pull-out food prep areas
- Improving lighting
- Moving switches and appliances to the front of the counter/cabinets
- Adding accessible storage areas.
Along with the kitchen, the bathroom is one of the rooms that requires extensive modifications in order to be considered safe and comfortable for a wheelchair user. There are issues with wet, slippery surfaces, sharp corners, not enough room and the overall strain of using a bathroom for someone who doesn’t have full control of their body. Here are some of the modifications that help address these and other challenges of bathroom accessibility:
- Installing a walk-in bathtub or a roll-in shower
- Adding a hand-held shower with accessible controls
- Installing grab bars and safety rails
- Removing cabinetry if needed to gain more turn-around room
- Replacing a vanity-top sink with a pedestal sink or a wall-mounted sink
- Raising the toilet height or installing a raised toilet seat
Besides the actual modifications of your bathroom space, you can also use bathroom safety equipment specifically designed for wheelchair users. For example, a transfer bench can help you comfortably transition between your wheelchair and the bathtub. A bath lift, on the other hand, will eliminate the need to lower yourself into the bathtub. If you need help deciding on and performing any of the described modifications, contact Freedom Mobility today for wheelchair-friendly home remodeling in Maryland.