Mobility issues and wheelchair use can limit a person’s freedom and make things a little more difficult. However, several adjustments around the house and small but significant aids for independent living can make things possible.
Moving Around the House
Stairs are especially problematic whether you are using a manual or powered wheelchair. Consider switching to a bungalow if you are living alone — but even then, you might need to find a contractor to install a few ramps inside and outside the house. If you are living with your family and prefer a room upstairs, then you might need to consider a stair lift or a wheelchair lift.
These two options do not cost as much as people think, although they do cost a considerable amount of money. Light switches might need to be adjusted, so you can reach them. Gadgets that can extend your reach are available, but lowering the position of switches is a more convenient and permanent solution. Make sure the phones are always available in several parts of the house and have your contractors adjust your utility switches and make them more accessible in case of emergencies.
Preparing Food in the Kitchen
Kitchens are especially problematic for wheelchair users. Top cabinets are usually unreachable and kitchen counters require a little bit of manoeuvring. Remodelling a kitchen is a necessity, especially if you are living alone. Counters may need to be lowered and some areas will need to have open access underneath the countertops to make space for wheelchairs.
Top cabinets will need to be lowered significantly if they are to be used at all. Choose appliances that have controls and switches at the front for ease of use and increased safety.
Using the Bathroom
The bathroom may be the most dangerous part of the house for people with mobility problems. Grab bars and specialised accessories for toilets are essential — especially since using the toilet requires moving from one place to another. A wider area is needed to allow wheelchairs to manoeuvre. Where a door is located and how it opens should be taken into consideration. An open space in front of a bathroom door is an ideal location.
Doors in front of narrow hallways might need to open inward and may require adjustments to the bathroom’s design. The shower area should be accessible, although a walk-in bathtub is also a good option. Walk-in bathtubs are specially designed for people with mobility issues and are a far safer option than regular tubs or showers. Access is easy and using walk-in tubs eliminates the risk of slipping or drowning even if you are alone.
Independent living, whether due to disability or age, is truly important. Small changes and a little help from modern technology can make things easier and make the house liveable, as well as minimise or eliminate the need for aid. Being able to do things and live on your own is empowering and uplifting. It gives you an overwhelming sense of dignity and satisfaction that you will want to hold on to for as long as possible.