Most Important Safety Home Modification for the Elderly and Disabled

Home modifications for accessibility

Knowing where to start an accessible home renovation project can be overwhelming. From the kitchen to the bathroom to details that make the space usable and safe, we’re here to help. With universal design elements, your home modification will suit the needs of your elderly parent or disabled spouse. Universal design creates a space usable for everyone, regardless of age or ability.

If the home renovation is for you, consider how you use the homes area and the everyday tasks you find the most difficult.

Make a List of Priorities Based on Your Specific Needs 

Alternatively, if your home modifications are for an elderly parent or a disabled family member living outside your home, spend an entire day or weekend with them if possible. Observe how they use the space and use the time to discuss what modifications would be best for them. Always listen to their needs and make them feel heard in the process.

Path of Travel

First, considering the path of travel throughout the home is vital. For some, this means ensuring that spaces are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Path of travel should look at the entry to a home, adding ramps for front door access or leveling out access to outdoor areas.

Five-Foot Turning Circle

When thinking about the path of travel, you should also consider the width of doors and floor barriers between rooms. Zero-barrier and low-barrier are best. Across residential spaces, a clear path of 36” is a good rule of thumb. Removing any obstructions or decorative things ensures that the home modification suits your elderly family member. Commercial spaces have different requirements regarding suitable widths for paths of travel. Carpets and rugs can be challenging to navigate in a wheelchair. Vinyl or laminate flooring is best for easy mobility. In specific rooms, it’s essential to ensure enough space to turn around in a wheelchair or under other restrictive circumstances. This path is referred to as a five-foot turning circle. The five-foot turning circle is a go-to metric that ensures someone in a wheelchair can fully access and use the space as necessary.

Shallow Counters

In your kitchen, consider counter depths and cabinet features. Shallow counters ensure that everything is accessible to those with limited mobility. Including cabinet inserts that pull up or down makes it easier to access the contents inside of a cabinet. Cabinet inserts can easily be installed daily, creating a massive difference in everyday life. When it comes to home modification services, it’s often a design feature we suggest.

Accessible Heights

Accessible heights are significant. Moving light switches and outlets are popular home modifications for disabled residents. Ensuring switches are accessible means that individuals have the light sources needed to keep themselves safe in the home. We also recommend raising everyday appliances, like the oven or dishwasher. Loading and unloading a raised dishwasher takes the strain out of the task for someone with limited mobility and is easier on the elderly.

Bathroom Safety

Bathrooms can be one of the most hazardous rooms in your home. Regardless of age or ability, thousands of people experience slips and fall in the bathroom a year. When making handicapped home modifications, it’s crucial to consider this essential room. Low-barrier and zero-barrier entry showers are easy to access and can make quite a stunning design feature.

Grab Bars

“Wet rooms” are becoming more popular in modern design. They’re also incredibly functional for handicapped bathrooms. Accessibility around the sink and toilet is also vital. Designs for grab bars are becoming more sophisticated and stylish. There’s so much more available to your handicapped home modification than the commercial-grade grab bars you’re used to. There are even grab bars connected to toilet paper holders now; they have both form and function.

Heights and Depths

Again, adjusting for heights and depths is also crucial to making your bathroom more user-friendly. Counter depths should be kept shallow to allow for total access. Taller toilets make it easier for someone to transfer from a wheelchair to the toilet. Floating sinks that can be rolled under are helpful and make a stunning feature. Hardware should be easy to use; consider replacing knobs with pulls. Door levers instead of traditional knobs are best for residents with limited dexterity. These features are great for designing a home where someone can age in place too.

Functionality and Comfort

Consider the overall functionality and comfort of your home. In your home modifications for accessibility, you may want to replace a window with french doors for easier outdoor access or install remote control blinds. This feature is great when getting ready for bed or waking up in the morning. If you’re helping a loved one gain or stay independent, consider other tech advances like assistance-equipped, smart homes, or in-home monitoring. Security systems like AT&T now offer in-home monitoring to ensure your at-risk loved one is safe. While these features don’t help with physical mobility, it provides families peace of mind.

Safety Lighting

You should also consider lighting as you plan your accessible renovation. Keep walkways and areas of traffic well-lit so there is clear visibility, making navigation safer and more accessible. The advantages of LED bulbs make them a great option because they offer the best lighting and are long-lasting. Motion-activated lights are also an option to eliminate the need to access a switch to turn on the lights. Instead of using a traditional switch for your lights, install a rocker-style knob. This will make it easier to adjust light levels for those who have trouble using their hands.

Home Modification Conclusion

Home modifications for accessibility or aging in place can be small changes over time. However, if you are currently working on a remodeling project, it’s smart to design with universal design theory because when your needs change, they may change overnight. Though the process is intimidating, plenty of resources and professionals are at your disposal. Small improvements can make a huge difference in the livability of your home. With Thrive Homes, we’re ready to help you update a home you can thrive in. Call us, and we’re happy to consult your ideas and needs today.