According to the 2010 census, over 56 million people in the United States have a physical disability. Those figures translate into about 20% of the entire U.S population, which technically means that one in every five households was reporting some type of disability. According to a more comprehensive report released by the U.S Census Bureau, later on, about half of all the disabled people in America were reporting severe disability.
For such people, their last hope lies with Social Security and Medical Insurance. However, those of us who are non-disabled can lessen their suffering by making our homes more handicap-friendly.
This post shall highlight some of the tips you can implement to make your home handicap-accessible.
Eliminate or Modify the Steps Near Entryways
The steps near the entryways are usually the first barriers that disabled people have to contend with while trying to access a house. So, if your house has such steps, the most prudent thing is to eliminate them.
And this applies to steps near the main door, garage door, back door, and those built at the doors of the various rooms. But what if you’re a bit reserved about removing the steps?
Now, it could happen that removing the steps affects your home’s aesthetic value adversely. There’s no need to fret, as there are numerous ways you can modify them. For instance, you could consider getting a platform, such as a ramp, that a wheelchair can roll through.
Get a Portable Power Wheelchair
Admittedly, many people living with disabilities happen to be seniors. But unlike before, many seniors today prefer to age gracefully at home instead of being subjected to the often-lonely life in nursing homes, assisted living communities, or other forms of long-term care facilities.
Statistics suggest that a whopping 90% of seniors would rather age in their homes. For such seniors, aging at home allows them ample time to interact with their near and dear ones and participate in local events.
But since they’re not confined in one place, the traditional manual wheelchairs may not be very useful in helping handicapped seniors get around. And that’s where a portable electric wheelchair comes in.
As the name suggests, a portable electric wheelchair operates utilizing a power system, complete with a motor, battery, and user-friendly joystick or steering column. These wheelchairs take away the hassles of having to use physical strength to maneuver indoors or outdoors.
Take Care of the Furniture
Another excellent tip in making your home handicap-accessible is taking care of the furniture and ensuring they’re generally within everyone’s reach. You can start by modifying or replacing the movable furniture. The goal is to ensure that your handicapped family member doesn’t strain to use any furniture piece.
Imagine having a family dinner, but your disabled sibling just can’t access the top of the dinner table. Or your disabled mom won’t prepare any meals because the kitchen shelves are a bit too high. Not only is this inconveniencing for them, but it’s also degrading and can trigger a sense of seclusion.
After taking care of all movable furniture, proceed to furniture fittings. If you purchased the house with the furniture already permanently fitted, consider hiring a home renovation contractor to adjust the fittings to enhance their access to your handicapped family members.
Modify Your Toilet and Bathrooms
Many handicapped people experience most challenges while using the toilet and bathrooms. As you modify your house to make it handicap-friendly, place a bit more emphasis on these areas. For instance, you can consider installing a toilet riser. A toilet riser will go a long way in helping your disabled family members who have trouble standing up, sitting down, or bending over.
One of the best things about risers is that they’re reasonably cheap, with most of them costing less than $50. They’re also incredibly easy to install and would not affect your bathroom’s visual appeal significantly.
Another modification you can make in your bathroom is installing a step-in-shower. These showers are intended to kick into action when a person walks in and stops working when they step out.
Get a Therapy Dog
A therapy dog refers to a dog that has been specially trained to provide comfort, support, and affection to people. Such dogs are common in hospitals and hospices, retirement homes, disaster management centers, and nursing homes.
Some standard therapy dog breeds include lurchers, Yorkshire Terriers, miniature dachshunds, and English springer spaniels. Although their primary role is to offer emotional support, therapy dogs can also help your handicapped family member get along indoors and outdoors. Therapy dogs have additional benefits, too, such as providing security for the disabled.
While looking for a therapy dog for your handicapped family member, consider dogs from reputable breeders. The breeder should offer you a detailed medical and physical profile of the dog, including his physical attributes, temperament, pedigree, exercise requirements, etc. After acquiring the animal, take some time to introduce him to all family members, paying more attention to the person he will be offering assistance to.
Making your home handicap-accessible doesn’t require making drastic, capital-intensive modifications. By implementing the tips mentioned above, you’ll end up with a home where everyone feels equal, be they able-bodied or persons living with a disability.