There are many reasons why you may need to adapt and have a wheelchair-accessible home. For example, someone in your home may have had a recent accident or injury, or you may be preparing for someone who is living with you to age in place. No matter the reason, a handicapped-accessible home will need some modifications for the person using the wheelchair to be comfortable as they move about the home.
Read on to learn more about modifications that may be needed for adapting for an electric wheelchair, both in and outside the home.
A Wheelchair-Accessible Home: Exterior Accessibility
If your loved one can’t enter the house, that’s definitely a problem, so your first attention should be to having a handicap accessible ramp installed so that they can easily enter and exit. There are essentially two types of ramps: modular (free-standing) ramps and threshold ramps. Modular ramps are the most durable and the most widely used. These are the types of ramps that overcome a significant height change. They are either made of aluminum or wood and can be constructed to be either temporary or permanent.
Threshold ramps are used when there is not a significant height change, but there is a small change that the ramp helps the wheelchair overcome. There are portable wheelchair ramps, but many people often use threshold ramps as portable ramps as well, should they encounter small height gains that could be problematic for a wheelchair user while out in the community.
A Wheelchair-Accessible Home: Doorways
Another significant issue when it comes to ensuring a handicap accessible house is ensuring that there are wheelchair-accessible doors. Wheelchairs vary but can be quite wide, so often, doorways must be widened to accommodate the chair. Doorways must be at least 32 inches to have a wheelchair-accessible home, but ideally should be 36 inches for maximum comfortability. Homeowners may often get nervous when they hear the term “widen doorways,” but sometimes, there can be other options, such as:
- Using Z hinges: These allow doors to swing differently and often offer up to an extra inch of clearance, leaving enough room for the wheelchair to pass.
- Removing the door or trim: Removing the door (or trim) completely allows extra room. If privacy is an issue, curtains can often be used instead.
Another thing to consider is the doorknob itself. Doorknobs may be hard for a wheelchair user to reach, so you may want to consider replacing doorknobs with levers.
A Wheelchair-Accessible Home: Other Modifications to Consider
As you’re ensuring your home is wheelchair-accessible, there are other modifications to consider other than wheelchair ramps and doorways. A wheelchair-accessible home should have:
- Light switches that are easy to reach
- Flooring that is non-slip or slip-resistant, such as laminate, ceramic, or carpet
- Hallways that are 36 inches or wider (ideally, they should be above 48 inches)
- A wheelchair-accessible toilet and walk-in shower with rails and seating
- A mattress that is 21 inches or lower to the ground (so they do not have to climb)
- Countertops that are between 28 and 34 inches high to be accessible
- Sinks that are wheelchair height
- Lowering appliances to 31 inches off the ground
- Furniture that is low to the ground
- A stair lift, if the home has a staircase
There may be other modifications you find that you may need along the way, but these are the most necessary ones, in addition to the installation of wheelchair ramps and accessible doorways, to make a wheelchair-accessible home.
For more information on how to make a wheelchair-accessible home or on mobility products that can help, such as wheelchair ramps and home stair lifts, contact Williams Lift Co. today. We want both caregivers and their loved ones to live their best lives possible.