To age at home comfortably, you need to plan ahead so that you’re not caught off-guard if a medical emergency or sudden disability strikes. One of the best ways to ensure that your home will be safe and secure for you as you age is to make it wheelchair accessible. Here’s a room-by-room look at how you can make your home wheelchair accessible with just a few modifications.
- Bedroom: Install an overhang lift or manual trapeze to help with getting in and out of bed.
- Bathroom: Install a bathtub lift and a commode lift, along with grab bars next to the toilet and shower/bathtub.
- Basement/attic: Install a stair lift to safely move between floors.
- Exterior/porch/yard: Install a durable outdoor stair lift and/or a portable ramp that goes to the front of the home. Longer outdoor stairs may require a vertical platform lift.
- Kitchen: Keep countertop and cabinet height within arms’ reach from a wheelchair. Your table should have 27” of knee clearance between the floor and table underside, plus a clear floor area of 30”x48” at each seating location.
- Garage: A 2-car garage gives you plenty of room to move between the vehicle and the home.
Throughout the home, install phones and alert systems in case of an emergency, especially next to the bed and next to the shower or toilet in the bathroom. Hallways and pathways should be wide enough to accommodate mobility scooters, rollators, and/or wheelchairs; standard widths are 36” for hallways and 32” for doorways. The minimum clear space for 180 degree turns is 36” in all directions. For maximum safety, keep your home well-lit at all hours of the day, and install light controls that are easy to reach and use.
It may seem far in the future, but planning ahead for a wheelchair accessible home will make it much easier to adapt your home for comfortable aging. With this guide as a starting point, you can rest easily knowing that you’ll be able to stay in your home as you age.