Friday, August 27, 2010
Wheelchair and Scooter Friendly Homes: Simple Changes You can Make Yourself
If you’ve recently begun using a wheelchair or mobility scooter to get around, you might be feeling a great mix of emotions. One of the most common feelings can be frustration caused by challenges you’re likely to face in a home that was not designed or decorated for someone using a mobility device. The good news is that, when it comes to making your home easier to navigate with a wheelchair or scooter, many of the changes that make the most difference are easily performed without major work or cost.
Here are 5 simple home-modifications that cost little or nothing to perform:
1. Remove loose carpets and rugs. Especially if you have hardwood or tile floors, loose floor coverings can be a frustrating obstacle for wheelchairs and scooters. Removing them obviously doesn’t cost anything, and it can make a big difference in your ability to easily navigate your home. Alternatively, an adhesive backing can be used to hold rugs in place.
2. Move furniture to accommodate your mobility device. This seems obvious, but many people don’t know just how much room is needed for their mobility device. As a general rule, arrange furniture to allow at least a 32-inch path and 5-foot turning radius. Some furniture might need to be removed altogether to accommodate this.
3. Tie strings to your door handles. To allow a wheelchair or scooter user to more easily pull a door closed while passing through doorways, add a 36-inch string to each door handle in your home. This comes with little to no cost, and it makes a big difference. If you don’t want plain ugly strings hanging from your doors, you can always use colored yarn or decorative ribbon!
4. Raise your tables and desks. To bring some tables and desks to above knee level, it might be necessary to place furniture coasters or blocks of wood under their legs. Again, let your creativity take over with this project to avoid big, ugly wooden blocks under your tables. Whatever you use, just be sure the table or desk is sturdy and can’t easily be knocked off its footings when you’re done.
5. Spruce up your device! One thing that can be challenging to get used to when first using a mobility device is the difficulty in carrying items and maneuvering at the same time. To help with this, equip your wheelchair or scooter with accessories to help carry everything from books and clothes, to drinks and medical necessities.
One last tip: While it doesn’t have to do with accessibility, it is important that you install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, and make sure the batteries are checked frequently. As it might take a little longer to get out of your home in an emergency, it is critical that you have early warning in these cases.
So, there you go! Some changes that will make a huge difference in your ability to get around your home in a wheelchair or scooter, that won’t break the bank or cause a lot of disruption. As always, if you have questions about equipment you have purchased or are considering, contact All Time Medical, and we’ll be happy to help any way we can.