According to the 2010 census, nearly 57 million people in the United States have a disability. That’s 19 percent of the population! This means more likely than not, you know someone who has a disability. So how do you prepare your home if you invite that person over for dinner, a movie marathon, or game night?
Some more advanced techniques might require you to have some home health aide training, but other techniques do not. From your yard to your bathroom to your living room, here are some simple ways to prepare your home for a handicapped guest.
The yard is the first piece of your home that your visitor will see. Make it pleasant for them by having a smooth walkway for wheelchairs, but make sure you still have something that will work and give traction to those individuals who are walking on it.
Remember sometimes a pathway that might be wide enough for you might not be wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through. If you have a disabled family member or friend, be sure to take this into account when you’re landscaping. In the meantime, it can help to clip back bushes or even lay down some extra stepping stones to help your guest get through.
Doorways can be tricky at times. Some doorways have little lips on the ground that are used when closing the door. It is helpful to not have these lips if they are not needed. If you can’t get past them, try to make them either rounded or sloped, or cover them with a rug. Doorway threshold ramps are great for helping you get around these lips. This decreases the possibility of someone tripping on them, and also makes it easier for wheelchairs to pass over them.
The bathroom can also be a complicated place. If you guest is going to be staying with you for a few days, showers can be hard to maneuver in and out of. Baths are the preferred method if possible, but in showers it is helpful to have shower grab bars to help stabilize the guest. If there’s room, your guest would probably greatly appreciate a shower seat – these are inexpensive and can be purchased at most department stores or online. And if your guest will be staying long term, consider a physical therapy pool – they can be highly therapeutic.
Carpet is not a wheelchair’s favorite medium as it can be hard to maneuver the wheelchair on this surface. That is why it would be a good idea to plan some fun activities in the rooms that have either hard wood floors or linoleum.
If the living room is really your only gathering place, be sure to make it easier for your guest to navigate by opening up the space between furniture. Tuck unnecessary furniture, like extra side tables, into a closet or your attic while your guest is present to provide extra space.
Ramps can be especially helpful for disabled people. If your guest is going to be a repeat visitor, consider investing in a portable ramp in order to give them an easier way to access your home. If someone in your family is wheelchair-bound, there are many ways to incorporate the ramp with the rest of your home to make it fit in.
Thanks to our guest blogger on how to setup your home for a handicapped guest. Sign up for our accessibility newsletter for more tips like these.
Have any more tips on how to make your home handicapped-friendly? Leave them in the comments below.