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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

How to Make Your Home More Functional for the Disabled

If you have someone who is newly disabled or you need to make your home more hospitable to a handicapped friend or family member who is disabled, there are several basic things that you can do to make it easier for them to maneuver while at your house. The number one concern for disabled persons when outside their own customized home situation, is how best to be independent while also being safe. Here are a few basic tips that can help you make your home more handicap accessible to a visitor or short-term resident who is disabled.
Remove obvious obstacles that hinder mobility
The first thing to do is to remove anything in the house that can cause a person to easily trip, fall or that will inhibit their movements on a scooter or wheelchair. Obviously, there are many different types of disabilities, from temporarily being on crutches to permanent confinement to a wheelchair. A minor, but important accommodation that you can provide, is to remove all rugs and other floor coverings that can make the floor uneven and treacherous.
If you are making your home more accessible for someone who is newly disabled, you may want to take a more serious approach to removing any obstacles that are built into your flooring, such as trim or uneven joint coverings that connect different types of flooring throughout the home. Also, if you need to, you can add smooth, transitional flooring patches to seams or joints that cause the floor to be uneven. This makes for easier, safer movement, whether a person is in a wheelchair, scooter or on crutches.
Re-arrange your furniture
You may also want to re-arrange your furniture to allow for a wider area of maneuverability, especially in case of scooter or wheelchair use. Even those who use crutches or canes are safer when they have a wide area in which to walk, without the chance of tripping or hitting a piece of furniture. Remember, home decor concerns should not be pre-eminent over safety concerns when it comes to properly accommodating a handicapped person.
Provide Better Bathroom Access
Usually, the most difficult area for the disabled in which to maneuver alone, is in the bathroom area. Using a tub, shower, toilet or vanity sink can be a daunting and dangerous experience for some people. Short of renovating or retro-fitting your bathroom according to ADA standards, you can do a few things to help those who may visit in your home. You can add a handicapped toilet chair that easily fits over the existing commode. These come with or without arm rails and can be easily removed when not in use.
For help in the shower, a simple chair that is designed for handicapped use is often enough to provide easy access for some people. There are also simple lifts for tubs that are portable, which can be placed on top of a tub for easy access.
These are just a few of the very simple, inexpensive things that you can do to make your home a bit more handicap-friendly for those who may visit your home or for someone who is newly disabled in your home. A serious renovation or retro-fitting of your home in areas such as the bathroom and bedroom are usually necessary to fully accommodate a long-term disability. However, these simple tips can provide some ease of use and extra safety measures for temporary or basic disability accommodations


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