29 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Home More Accessible
When you sit in a wheelchair, cannot bend, lift, reach, grasp, see, hear, or you have limited use of your hands, living in your home can be challenging. Shelley Peterman Schwarz, who has limited use of her hands and uses a wheelchair to get around, shares her favorite Tips for Making Life Easier™ for making your home safer, more comfortable , AND more accessible.
- Make sure you have at least one battery operated telephone (or cell phone) that does not require electricity to function so that if the power goes out you will not be without a phone.
- Program important numbers into your phone (doctor, emergency contact, family members, etc.) so you have them in case of emergency.
- Purchase a fire extinguisher from your local fire safety store that can be operated with one hand.
- If you live or spend much time alone, consider Lifeline™ or a similar medical aid service that you can contact for help in case of an emergency.
Stairs and Stairways
- Install railings on both sides of the stair way, make sure they extend from the very top step to very bottom step.
- Keep stairways well lit.
- If you have a high step that's difficult to manage, try reducing the height by creating a half step.
- Add luminescent paint or tape on edges, so you can easily see where the step ends.
- On outdoor steps, add sand to paint for better traction.
Door, Doorways, and Doorknobs
- Add rubber bands or grips over doorknobs for better grasp.
- Replace round knobs with lever-handles.
- Offset hinges make doors wider for wheelchair access.
Lighting, Light Switches, Lamps
- Replace regular light switches with rocker switches that work with the whole hand.
- Add touch or voice sensors to lamps.
- Add motion sensor lights outdoors and in areas such as the garage, basement or laundry where your hands may be otherwise occupied.
Communications Systems Within the House
- Check your phone book or with the company about how to use your telephone as an intercom.
- Purchase inexpensive wireless intercoms or walkie-talkies to communicate at home, on the road between vehicles, or at shopping malls, zoos, amusement parks, and other large venues where it is easy to get separated.
- Give yourself more time to get to door by installing a driveway alert that will notify you when someone drives past it into your driveway.
Locks and Keys
- Add keyless locks, either a touch pad or electronic bob (like on newer cars) to open doors without fumbling for keys.
- Use a garage door opener to let guests into the house when you are lying down or home alone.
- Purchase a key cover with a light on it.
- An ergonomically-designed key turner will make it easier to turn locks.
Ramps, Railings, and Grab Bars
- Add bedrails, the kind they sell for children’s beds, to make getting in and out of bed easier.
- Purchase a portable suction cup grab handle and use it where you need it at home, or take it with you when you go out.
- Purchase a portable threshold ramp to make it easier to get into or out of the house - yours and friend's.
Organizing All Around the House
- Arrange furniture to help you get through the house more easily. Use the backs of chairs and sofas for added support, and build in resting places in long hallways or busy areas such as the kitchen or a basement laundry.
- Work smarter not harder
- Use clear storage bins so you can see what is inside.
- Put custom grips on household tools (brooms, mops, shovels, rakes, etc.) to make holding them and using them easier.
- Sit while you work. Get a tall stool with wheels for use in the kitchen, or if you use a wheelchair, use child-sized brooms and tools.
- Before storing seasonal decorations, take pictures of your decorated rooms and keep them with the decorations so you can easily duplicate the look again.
- Remove throw rugs that could make you slip. If you must have something on the floor, use rugs with rubber backing that will adhere securely to the floor.
- If doors rub on the carpet, making them hard to open or close, sand off the bottom by rubbing it across sandpaper (braced with newspaper) until it moves easily.
- Use long-handled reachers to grasp things that are out of reach. One of my favorites is the TeleStik™ which comes with a magnetic pad, sticky pad and hook end.
For more tips and strategies for making your home safer and more accessible, pick up a copy of Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier by Shelley Peterman Schwarz at a library, bookstore, or on-line bookseller.
©2011 Meeting Life’s Challenges, LLC www.MakingLifeEasier.com
For reprint permission contact Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com