Living At Home With a Disability
Finding an accessible home can be a great challenge since there are so few on the market. This is a big problem considering that there are nearly 57 million Americans with a disability. However, when you combine homes that come accessible with homes that can be converted, your choices multiply exponentially. That’s why many people who have a disability look for a home that can accommodate modifications. If you’re living with a disability and need to find a home that meets your needs, here are some tips to help guide you through the process:
Be Diligent: No matter what kind of home you want to buy, if it’s your first time, it’s important to follow a few guidelines that can help the process go as smoothly as possible. For instance, check your credit because it will help you estimate what kind of mortgage you can expect. The best way to get your credit score is to ask for a report from the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Then, compare the reports and note any inaccuracies so that you can dispute if necessary.
You should also come up with a realistic price for what you can spend on the home; this price should include any potential modifications to the home. Furthermore, ask around for recommendations and interview a few different real estate agents.
Focus on structure and layout: There are two key things to look for, structural integrity and layout. When house-hunting for an accessible home, remember that you might not find a home that is move-in ready, especially if you use a wheelchair either part of the time or all the time. A qualified and reliable real estate agent can help make the entire home buying process easier and less stressful for you.
Structural integrity refers to the stability of the home’s construction. When a home is structurally sound, it is sometimes referred to as having “good bones.” This means that the foundation, roof, walls, floors, and other important elements are in good condition. This is the single most critical quality of any home, and lack of structural integrity poses a danger to inhabitants. A professional inspection should point out any structural issues.
Always get the home inspected by an Independent Professional Home Inspector outside of your Realtor’s office. If the home you’re interested in is structurally sound, then take a look at the layout. The ideal accessible home will be single-floor with wide doorways and hallways and a lot of open space. This kind of layout will make everyday life easier for those who use a wheelchair or have limited mobility.
If you’re not able to find a home with these specifications, remember that you can modify it. Just keep in mind that modifications can be expensive, so look for a home with as many accessible traits as possible. A main floor laundry area is a good idea for ease of access. Just like the right accessories can make an outfit work, the right accessories can make for a more efficient and organized laundry room. (Laundry Room Accessories)
Make the major modifications first. If you end up needing to make modifications to your new home, start with the major modifications. This might include widening doorways and hallways, knocking out a wall, and/or lowering countertops, bathroom vanities, and light switches.
There are a number of grants and other financial assistance resources available to those who need home modifications and equipment, so do your research before having the modifications done. If you have a senior pet, make sure the home is pet-friendly and easy for you and your companion. About half of the homes have a pet, and to prevent tripping I recommend having a secure area for the pet as the elder moves around the home freely and preventing tripping.
Add any equipment you need. Once you have the major modifications in place, consider the equipment you need to make your daily tasks more accessible. Common items include threshold ramps, grab bars, rails, and ample lighting. Also, consider the flooring in the home. High-pile carpet and shag rugs can be a problem, while hardwoods, vinyl, and low-pile carpet are all suitable flooring options for wheelchair use and limited mobility.
Upgrades: It might take some work, but you can find an accessible home by planning and knowing what to look for. Remember to follow important guidelines like checking your credit, estimating a price you can afford, and finding a good real estate agent. Look for a structurally-sound home with a layout that can accommodate your everyday needs. Then, you’ll be ready to make any necessary modifications and add the equipment you need to fulfill daily tasks safely and comfortably. Lighting, building ramps, widening doorways, remodeling floors, threshold changes, and redoing at least one bathroom and the kitchen are all recommended during remodeling.
Replace stairs with ramps, Stairs are a hazard for many, not just those in wheelchairs but for anyone with limited mobility. They also tend to pop up in almost any architectural style. Even if your home is a single-story ranch, you likely have at least one or two steps leading from your stoop to your doorway, or from an interior landing to a living room.
Install a stairlift, If you or your loved one finds stairs to be a cumbersome obstacle, consider installing a stairlift. Stairlifts come in a wide variety of styles, and can be installed as a permanent home modification, or can be an on-the-go solution, such as a portable stair climber. Stairlifts turn multi-level homes or even front yard steps into accessible homes for those with limited mobility. Installing them will level out your home and create a safe, accessible space. As a general rule, traditional Medicare doesn’t cover most retrofits.
Adapting your home to accommodate another’s needs is a step some are hesitant to make. But if you’re contemplating this move, consider advice from the experts who say the trend is likely to continue as the nation’s population ages, Local agencies can provide in-home safety assessments. There are simple things that you can do to prevent any safety issues and to help make the home more user-friendly.
Low-cost safety tips:
Add textured, no-slip strips in the bathtub and showers.
Place a waterproof seat or chair in the shower.
Replace toilet with a raised or high-profile toilet.
Use rubber-backed bathmats. Apply non-slip wax on floors and Put non-skid treads on steps. Remove area and throw rugs to prevent tripping. Replace standard doorknobs with lever handles.
Disability Accessible Closets:
There are two types of closets: one is a “shallow closet” space which is shallower than the 48″ x 30″ required by a wheelchair and therefore does not allow full entry. A closet that is deeper than 48″ would allow full entry by a person in a wheelchair. Plan your doorway upgrades accordingly. Wide closets with wide doorways are easy for everyone to use. Sliding barn doors are a great way to save space! One simple idea – use 2 closet rods (an upper and lower one) and position the lower rod 30” off the ground. This will be easy for someone in a wheelchair to get blouses, shirts, pants, and jeans without straining. For higher hanging garments (i.e. long dresses or suit jackets), a pull-down closet rod will bring your clothes to you. Universal closets Ideas.
Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom Sink:
Wheelchair accessible bathrooms are especially popular with the Aging In Place movement, which seeks to preserve dignity and independence by keeping elderly individuals in their own homes as they age. Wheelchair sinks installed in the home can be customized to meet the specific needs of individual users.
Accessible bathrooms for wheelchair users:
Bathing is a fundamental need. An accessible shower makes independent bathing possible for elderly, aging, or disabled users. Getting in and out of conventional tubs and showers can be a struggle, even dangerous. Most bathrooms aren’t properly designed for wheelchairs, with a roll-in barrier-free shower, wheelchairs and shower chairs that can easily enter the shower stalls.
While it may not be ‘fun’ to think about needing an ‘accessible anything,’ in a new or remodeled home, it’s important (and cost-effective) to design spaces so you can live independently as long as possible. many people are finding themselves needing to accommodate their home due to using a wheelchair and also in preparing to remain in their homes as they age. There are currently at least 30 million Americans using wheelchairs and those numbers continue to increase as a large population of people with age-related challenges are looking for ways to live independently in their homes.
Low-interest loans for home improvements are options. If your family’s income is low, you live in a rural area and the home being modified belongs to someone age 62 or older, the renovations may qualify for the Federal Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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