Surgeries, accidents, chronic illnesses, advanced age and more can make it necessary to make your home more medically accessible. Everything from balance issues to needing a wheelchair for ambulation in your environment can necessitate the need to adapt your home to make it more user friendly. For assurance of safety and ease of use, be sure all modification complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, and the American National Standards Institute’s accessibility regulations and building codes. Here are five tips to help you when it comes time to making home modifications for medical accessibility.
Install Grab Bars
Properly installed grab bars are helpful in more places than just the bathroom. Of course, they are the most useful in the bathroom where they should be installed on walls near tubs and showers and even by the toilet. Grab bars need to be connected with strong fasteners into the framing timbers of the structure. Never rely on suction cups, drywall or plaster anchors, or other flimsy attachment mechanisms.
Install a Chair-Height Toilet
This change can make a huge difference for people with bad knees or other conditions that cause them difficulty when sitting or rising from a seated position. Standard toilets are lower, whereas chair-height toilets are higher. In addition, taller toilets are also usually elongated, providing more of a surface area for easier balance while seated. This is a product whose benefits become much more readily apparent once in use.
Modify Thresholds and Install Ramps
Access to doorways and their thresholds are common problems for those with medical issues that restrict free movement. Stairs and the need to step up or down at door thresholds are areas where fall accidents can readily occur. If you use a cane or walker, ramps are much easier to navigate than attempting the stairs. Ramps are necessary if you use any type of wheelchair for ambulation. Thresholds should be leveled according to guidelines for modifications for handicap access. Eliminating slippery floor surfaces by installing carpeting or coating tile, vinyl and other slick floors with clear no-slip coatings is also a very helpful safety modification.
Invest in a Power Wheelchair
Even if you can stand and walk short distances, a power wheelchair is an amazing benefit to provide you more freedom to explore your environment and community. Power wheelchairs and scooter devices can free you to once again go out shopping, get to the store or post office down the street, or just explore your neighborhood like you could before. Plus, modern styles of power wheelchairs and mobility scooters have innovative designs that have lights, turn signals, mirrors and powerful batteries that give you travel capability of more than 15 miles on a charge. One three-wheel model has a design reminiscent of a motorcycle and can travel 35 miles at 9.5 mph.
Get a Stair Lift
Many people with medical conditions that make it difficult or impossible to walk up and down a flight of stairs adapt their multistory homes to living on just the first floor. A dining room area is often converted into a bedroom if a first floor bathroom is available. A stair lift restores your freedom to go upstairs anytime you want. Though not covered by Medicare or health insurance, a stair lift may be partially covered under Medicaid plans for eligible individuals who wish to stay in their home.
Other useful items are a lift chair to help in rising from a seated position. These may be covered under Medicare and health insurance plans. A medical alert pendant connected to a base station that can contact a 24-hour emergency monitoring center is also a device that gives peace of mind to the person needing it as well as loved ones. Technologies are continually being developed and modified to help you stay in your home longer even though you have special medical needs.