How to Retrofit Your Home For Older Or Disabled Residents
In case you or someone in your home has special needs, then there are a lot of remodelling or redesigning adjustments you may make so as to make the life easier. With the passage of time, the demands for homes which accommodate special needs of people are increasing very rapidly.
These modifications not only increase the value of your house but also make life easy. Handicapped or elderly people in our home may face problems with things we might not think of. The problems can be very common such as not being able to reach up to a level or a thing.
But this can be a very serious problem as a bad fall for those people. If we put our little effort to fix these problems and make some adjustments, it will be easier for the handicapped and elderly people to live their life on their own and independently.
While fitting home for a person with special needs or an elderly, it is very important to keep few things in mind.
Wheelchair Accessible Doorways
Usually an external doorway is 32 inches wide and a wheelchair is also 32 inches wide. This means that a wheelchair can't pass through this much space and hence we need to increase the size of the doorway. According to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the door must have a width of 34 inches. But it is always better to increase it 2 inches more and make it 36 inches wide so that a wheelchair can pass through easily and without any interruption. Where as most of the internal doorways of a home are kept 24-26 inches, which means a wheelchair can't pass through them without any modification.
In order to provide easy access of wheelchairs, the door must be replaced. The door needs to be widened and doorknobs must be replaced by ADA approved door handles (L-shaped handles). Most of the restaurants install ADA approved door handles which can be easily opened by the wheelchair, handicapped people. These handles can be easily available in the local hardware stores (Lowe's, Home Depot).
Counter top Height and ease of use
It is very difficult to lower the level of the counter tops because of the back-splash and plumbing issues. But there are few other ideas as well which you can use to make the life easy.
Best way to do is to build an island in the centre which contains a sink and a counter top. The height from the floor must not be more than 34 inches (ADA approved). In case you already have one in the centre, you can easily alter it as per the requirement. You also need to replace the handles of the cabinets and the refrigerators so that a person a wheelchair can easily open it.
Flooring Considerations and Floor Plan
A very important point to be kept in mind is that the flooring must be done using non-skid tiles. This will help the wheelchair person to roam freely without the fear of rolling away.
For the comfort of elderly and handicapped people, use the grasp bars along the shower and the toilet. Height of bar must be around 32 to 34 inches above the floor. You can also make use of a pedastal sink for the special needs people.
Following tips can be considered while remodelling a house for people with disabilities or special needs -:
Try to use temporary ramps that lead to the doors rather than the permanent ramps.
While buying a house, check whether the house can be easily remodelled later on with minimum effort and money.
Planning for a bigger bathroom will prove as an asset for the special needs people. They can use it easily and comfortably if the radius of the bathroom is kept at least 5 feet.
In order to provide complete independence to a handicapped, wheelchair person, you can set up a room which in which the height of shelves or tables is kept lowered.
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