When you think about remodeling your Maryland home to accommodate a wheelchair user, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom probably come up as the first things to focus on. But while you are planning all the interior work, don’t forget about the exterior! After all, if your loved one has trouble entering the home in the first place, they are unlikely to enjoy everything you’ve done inside. As Maryland mobility equipment experts, we often help clients with home remodeling for seniors or disabled individuals. Here are a few things we recommend to address when it comes to the exterior of your home.
If you could do only one thing to the exterior of your home to make it more accessible for a wheelchair user, installing a wheelchair ramp should be it. Most homes have porches, steps, narrow walkways and many other obstacles that are difficult, and often impossible, for a wheelchair user to overcome. A ramp can be installed either at the front or at the back entrance of your home, depending on which one provides easier access. Ramps used for this purpose are called modular ramps; they consist of several sections that can be used to form turns as needed. At Freedom Mobility, we carry and install such ramps, and even offer them for rent. One of the aspects of modular ramps our customers enjoy is that fact that they are not permanent structures and can be disassembled and removed when no longer needed.
It’s important to be able to see well after dark, whether you are using a wheelchair or walking on your own two legs. However, while a healthy person can balance themselves to avoid a fall, someone in a wheelchair doesn’t have that option, so they can’t take chances with poor outdoor lighting. Another difficulty for a wheelchair user is turning the lights on and off if the switch is placed too high. The solution is to install motion-sensor lights on the outside of the house and point them to illuminate the entire way from the curb to the front door.
Entering or exiting your own home in a wheelchair can be a challenge. First, you need to open the door, which can be problematic if the handle and the lock are too high. Once you managed that, now it’s a tight squeeze through the doorway and some maneuvering over the raised door threshold. And forget about closing the door behind you—reaching for a fully opened door from the outside is tricky. Here are a few solutions to these problems. Installing a small threshold ramp will make the transition from either side of the door much smoother. If widening the door frame is in the budget, it will definitely help with accessibility. And as for the door itself, you could install a lever-style handle instead of the round handle for easier use. Or you could implement one of the automatic commercial door openers. And don’t forget to install a lowered peep hole!
Carts and Shelving
If your loved one lives and uses a wheelchair on their own, they probably tend to buy necessities online to avoid driving. This presents another challenge—picking up packages from the front porch. Leaning over and lifting a heavy box is not an option for many wheelchair users. To avoid the hassle, consider installing mail shelving or placing a rolling cart on the porch. This way the box can be easily transferred to the wheelchair or rolled into the house with minimal lifting! Need help implementing these or other interior or exterior home modifications? Give Freedom Mobility a call or contact us online for an in-home consultation.