Six simple suggestions on affordable home accessibility from blogger Mark E. Smith.
Unfortunately, it’s been determined that my mother can no longer live alone and must use a wheelchair full time. My wife and are moving her into our home on very short notice, and don’t have a lot of means to make our home accessible. One, what are the top aspects and equipment we should look at to make our home accessible. Two, how can it be done very economically? Thanks for your help. –Jim
I’m sorry to hear about your mother, and it’s touching that you and your wife are there in this time of need. These transitions aren’t easy for anyone. However, as you suggest, having the right level of accessibility in vital areas of your home can make activities of daily living safer and easier for everyone in your family. And, with so many affordable products, you don’t have to break the bank in doing so.
I like to start at the front door. Typically, if a home has three steps or less at the entry, a portable ramp is a very economical access solution. Portable ramps commonly come in lengths from 2’ to 8’ (the higher the porch or entry, the longer the ramp needed), and are easily moved or permanently installed. The non-skid coatings and side lips on portable ramps likewise increase safety. Portable ramps also give you flexibility to take the ramp to a relative’s house or wherever access is needed. Lastly, portable ramps are extremely affordable, so they serve as a great immediate, inexpensive access solution.
Bath Safety Products
The bathroom can possess among the most difficulties for those with strength, balance, and coordination issues, so ensuring safety is vital. Whether you have a bathtub or a shower, a transfer bench is a must. A transfer bench – most of which are height adjustable – allows one to transfer from a wheelchair to a stable, seated surface in a tub or shower. Most transfer benches include a backrest and grab bar for even more safety. When not needed by other family members, the transfer bench is easily removed and set aside. Again, transfer benches are extremely inexpensive.
Also, while considering bathing, look at installing a hand-held shower nozzle – it’s a very easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that increases safety and independence.
The commode is another area of utmost safety and independence needs. If one can transfer to a standard toilet seat, a toilet safety frame (arm-height grab bars that are on each side of the toilet), is a great solution. Additionally, if one needs a taller transfer surface, a raised toilet seat is beneficial, placing the toilet seat at wheelchair height, with some including side grab bars, as well. Both alternatives clamp or bolt onto the commode, at very little cost for added safety.
From the bathtub to the commode, additional grab bars can prove vital when strategically placed. While, traditional bolt-on, wall-mounted grab bars prove the ultimate in strength, several other non-permanent grab bar solutions can prove equally effective. For the bathtub, clamp-on grab bars attach to the outer edge, adding a handhold for entering and exiting. For shower interiors or on the wall next to the commode, suction cup grab bars are an immediate solution with no mechanical installation required.
Convenient, Affordable Home Accessibility
When we think of home accessibility for a loved one, it can seem like a daunting, costly endeavor. However, as noted here, if one’s needs are for fundamental home access and safety, a few strategic products can create an accessible, safer home that fosters independence, for less money than one may expect.