Do you have a loved one who is losing their mobility and becoming more prone to falls - but who also wants to stay in a private home for as long as possible? If so, you are probably looking for ideas on how to make their home more accessible.
The process can often seem overwhelming, especially because home accessibility products are often expensive and are seldom covered by insurance. But you don't have to break the bank to make a home more accessible. In fact, there are even a few things you can do without spending money at all. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Offset door hinges:If someone in your home relies on a wheelchair or walker, standard room doors can be narrow and difficult to maneuver through. If you install offset the hinges, the door can swing all the way out of the frame, which adds about two inches of width to the doorway. These hinges cost about $25-30 plus installation – which is much cheaper than expanding the doorway. Learn more here.
Install rocker light switches:Replacing standard light switches with easy-to-use rocker switches is a great mobility option if your loved one has arthritic or shaky hands. Rocker switches can be found at any hardware store for just a few dollars a piece and installation only takes a few minutes.
Install stair rails:When it comes to fall risk, stairs are a big danger. But, if your loved one wants to stay in a home with stairs and can still get around relatively well, there's an option. You can install proper stair rails that can bear weight on both sides of the stairs. This allows those with limited mobility to continue to use the stairs without the expense of a stairlift. Just be sure to watch for changes in mobility. At some point, it may make sense to omit the use of stairs altogether.
Put grab bars in the bathroom:These can be installed next to the toilet and in the tub and shower. They cost a lot less than a conversion - which can be prohibitively expensive - and help with getting in, out, up or down. Learn more about grab bars and get installation tips
Buy a toilet riser:If your parent has difficulty sitting on the toilet, a riser – or a seat that adds height to the toilet seat – can make a huge difference. They are cheap (usually less than $50) and portable.
Remove or tape down area rugs:While rugs can make your room look nice, they can also be a trip hazard and can make it hard to get around with a walker or wheelchair. Wherever possible, remove rugs or make sure they are well secured. To further alleviate fall risks, run cords and cables along the wall whenever possible.
Update your doors:Hang your bathroom door so it swings outward, not inward, especially if your bathroom is small. It's much easier for somebody in a wheelchair or walker to close an outward-swinging door. If your loved one is unable to reach long distances and use leverage, you can also tie a cord around the door knob or install a door pull to make this task easier.
Install pull handles:The kitchen presents its own set of challenges when it comes to mobility, but there's an easy fix. Replace knob handles on doors or cabinets with pull handles. This will make it much easier for those with limited hand mobility to navigate the kitchen.
Lower thresholds:Sanding down your door thresholds is one option, but a portable threshold ramp is a cheaper and easier way to go. These ramps are relatively affordable, and they are so light that you can take them with you when visiting friends or family.
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