Aging in Place: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Make Your Home More Accessible to the Disabled
“The more things change, the more they stay the same”, you’ve probably heard that one before. But when it comes to people, and the homes we live in, few things could be closer to the truth. People can, and do, change. For many reasons, foreseen as well as unforeseen, people and their circumstances change.
One thing is true for all people, we age – and for some people, we become informed. People have accidents, and people experience illnesses, many of which can cause them to become unable to do some of the simplest things in their home. Things like climbing stairs, and reaching into cabinets, or getting in and out of the bathroom. These daily activities, when hindered, can quickly make living with a disability very difficult, if not impossible.
The good news is that you, as a homeowner, can make your home more accessible to the disabled right now! This article will outline three things you can do with your living environment, right now, that will improve accessibility for you, for other family members, and for your friends. Whether the situation is temporary, or permanent, your quality of life will improve as you increase your ability to access, with grace and ease, the different rooms within your home.
You Could Move:
Moving to a home that is more accessible to a disabled person is usually the first thing people consider when faced with this challenge. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, this is often the least practical option. As much as a different home might be more desirable, it is often not economically feasible. There might be a lack of homes available for sale in a given area that are accessible to a disabled person. Also, your specific condition may be short-term, and moving would be a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Moving may also be an option that many homeowners don’t want since it could take a disabled person away from the friends and neighbors they’ve come to know, and rely on, over a lifetime spent together. When moving is not an option, you might want to…
As soon as buying a different home is determined to be less practical, many homeowners consider the addition of a new room in order to accommodate a disabled person. There is one primary disadvantage to this option, namely, when the new addition is created it will be accessible to the disabled person, but, the balance of the existing residence will remain inaccessible.
The challenge then becomes one of modifying a portion of the existing residence to gain access to the new room addition. But where do you start? And, where do you stop? These are not easy questions to answer. Ideally you want everything inside the house to be accessible, and in that effort, it can become extremely challenging. The biggest factor tends to be the budget. So when choosing the add-on option for an existing home, it’s easier to make the new room accessible from the outside. However, this is not always the most convenient solution for the person accessing the new living space.
Maybe it’s time to Remodel:
The third option, which surprisingly is quite often the least considered, is to remodel the entire existing floor plan. Most homeowners don’t consider this option because they believe, at the outset, that it would be too expensive. They think that whatever modifications need to be done to create the access they desire, will be limited to leaving the fixtures that already exist in their current locations. Then somehow they will have to re-build new walls around those fixtures. Fortunately, this is just not the case.
Thanks largely to modern construction methods and materials, virtually any existing home can be remodeled to accommodate a disabled individual with varying degrees of limitation. This might be something as easy as building a new ramp to access the main entry door, or simply widening the doorways to existing bedrooms. Then it could become involved to such a degree that you move walls, redesign the layout completely, and create a new flow through the entire house. Even two-story homes can be modified to create an environment that will support the freedom and lifestyle one desires in the 21st century.
Regardless of what would be needed to make a home accessible for a disabled person, it can be done for a lot less time, money, and hassle than you might think.