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Last Updated on October 20, 2022

Our lives are constantly evolving, and we must adapt to change along with them. This may mean making some adaptations from time to time, including creating a wheelchair-accessible home for a family member or friend who is wheelchair-bound. Of course, this leads to questions like, what is considered wheelchair accessible, and how can I make my house wheelchair friendly?

Though there are many reasons why you’re looking for the answers to queries like “what size door is required for wheelchair access,” there are just as many safety solutions that allow the special senior in your life a degree of autonomy in their own home or someone else’s. Read on for more information on creating a safe wheelchair-accessible home

What Is a Wheelchair-Friendly House?

By definition, wheelchair-accessible homes have been modified to allow a comfortable range of motion for a person in a wheelchair, whether it’s due to surgery, limited mobility, or injury. This means customizing the primary residence or vacation home and tweaking it to allow for the space that a wheelchair needs to fit properly through doorways, into restrooms, and up and down stairs with ease. 

Here are a few things to keep front of mind as you embark on adapting a home for wheelchair accessibility. It’s also helpful to walk through your home and take notes, envisioning every tweak that will make your senior’s life easier as they navigate the home in a wheelchair.

  • In the kitchen: Consider the height of the appliances in this space. Things such as the microwave, sink/faucets, and countertops will need to be lowered for ease of reach from the height of a wheelchair.
  • Bathroom considerations: The bathroom sink and toilet require special modifications to be comfortable to reach from a wheelchair. How big does a wheelchair-accessible bathroom need to be? Experts recommend that an accessible bathroom should have dimensions of 30 by 48, though larger is preferred for added mobility.
  • Living room: How tall are the sofas and chairs in the family room? Replacing furniture that’s too high off the ground is a simple way to make allowances for a person in a wheelchair.
  • Bedroom comfort: Mattresses will need to be 21 inches or lower than the floor so it’s easy to get in and out of bed. 
  • Overall changes: Check the home’s light switches. These will need to be within easy reach of a person in a wheelchair. Look down at the floor. Ensure flooring is skidproof to make it safe to traverse in a wheelchair. Replace hard-to-turn doorknobs with door levers. 

Adapting a Home For Wheelchair Accessibility

Consider what major modifications you’ll need to make when creating your wheelchair-accessible home.

Begin with the outside of the home. For example, if there are stairs leading to the door or a lifted patio or porch, you’ll need to install a ramp up to the doorway. These come in different styles and types based on your specific needs, such as a temporary ramp, threshold ramp, or modular ramp, and they’re made with different materials. We can guide you to choose one based on your specific situation.

Widening doorways is necessary so a wheelchair can safely fit through – 36 inches is recommended for ease of movement. You can also choose less invasive means to make doorways accessible, such as removing doors or doorway trim.

Lastly, you may be wondering how to make stairs handicap accessible. You can achieve this by installing a stair lift, which is a motorized seat that a senior can get into and ride up and down a staircase, making it doable for a person in a wheelchair to access a higher level of the home still. 

Additional Resources

Looking for more ways to make your home accessible?

Consult this list of resources, and contact us for the installation of ramps, stair lifts, and other types of modifications to create a safe and wheelchair-accessible home for a senior.