5 easy ways to make your home more accessible

by the Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 01, 2011

Elderly home accessibility can be fairly basic, or it can be complex enough to require hiring a contractor or handyman. When you are considering elderly home accessibility, you must remember to think about not only what’s inside your home, but the exterior and the entrance to your home as well. Take a careful look at your home, and consider not only your current accessibility needs, but any future ones as well, and think about having a professional do a home accessibility inspection and give you tips on how to make elderly home accessibility a breeze.

Five Ways to Modify Your Entryway for Elderly Home Accessibility

Senior safety begins before you actually walk into your home. One area of elderly home accessibility is incredibly simple to accomplish, and this is ensuring your house numbers are extremely visible. You never want emergency personnel to have difficulty finding your house when you are in trouble. A shelf by the front door can be a huge accessibility helper—have you ever tried to open your door when your arms are full of groceries or packages?

Adding a sturdy bench on the opposite side of the door from the shelf also offer a place to set things or to sit down and rest or find your keys. Code requires entry doors to be at least 36 inches wide, however, you might want to consider expanding to a larger entry, even as much as 48” to allow ease of use with wheelchairs or walkers. The front landing of your home should be a minimum of 5’ x 5’ to ensure room for mobility devices to maneuver, and larger is even better.

Five Kitchen Modifications for Elderly Home Accessibility

While a full-blown kitchen remodel may be cost-prohibitive, there are elderly home accessibility issues you can address that will greatly improve overall elderly safety. If you are considering a remodel, then opt for rounded-edge countertops at different heights with color-contrast fronts, allowing you the option of standing or sitting as well as helping to prevent spills.

Small, often-used appliances such as microwaves, toasters or blenders are best left on the countertop within easy reach to avoid unnecessary reaching and bending. A side-by-side refrigerator tends to be much more accessible than the more traditional freezer-on-top type, so you might consider replacing your current refrigerator, especially if it is older or worn out.

Replace round pull knobs on your kitchen cabinets and drawers with pulls which are much more easily opened by older hands with arthritis. Have a contractor install a no-touch motion sensor faucet which turns on and off automatically whenever you place your hands under it. These types of faucets are especially nice for those who have trouble in gripping or turning a regular faucet.

Five Bathroom Modifications for Elderly Home Accessibility

Elderly home accessibility can be especially important in the bathroom. In many older homes it can be difficult to obtain the five foot radius needed to accommodate a wheelchair, scooter or walker. If you are considering remodeling, you will definitely want to widen the doorway, as well as change out your shower or tub for a no-threshold walk-in or roll-in shower. A hand-held shower head is a relatively easy fix for elderly home accessibility, which you can either install yourself or have a handy friend or neighbor install for you. Adding grab bars in your shower and toilet area are huge accessibility helpers, as is installing a raised toilet seat.

Elderly home accessibility can be accomplished simply by doing a thorough walk-through and making note of any areas which either are presently hard to access, or could be in the future. Consider replacing any knobs or handles which must be gripped hard or pulled to open, whether or not you currently suffer from arthritis or not. Ensuring elderly home accessibility now can save you lots of headaches in the future.



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