Older people or those with mobility issues may not be able to do the things they want independently and this can seriously impact their day-to-day life. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), more than 90% of people prefer to stay in their home as long as they can. However, progressive health conditions such as arthritis, spinal problems, osteoporosis and other aging-related issues can restrict their ability to move around the home. Often, such mobility issues may mean that their current home is no longer appropriate for their needs. As a result, many people move home to improve accessibility. Whether you are moving into a new or resale home, paying due attention to the following factors will ensure that the house is accessible:
- Style of house – From an accessibility point of view, one of the best styles of house is a bungalow or a two-storey house which has sufficient space for an elevator. If you choose a bungalow, installing an elevator can ensure access to the basement. It is best to avoid back split, side split and townhomes as it is difficult to improve accessibility in such settings.
- Entrance – Make sure that the main entrance of the house is not too far above grade level. The higher the threshold, the longer ramp that will be required. On the other hand, a porch or large landing is essential if you want to install a porch lift or vertical platform lift.
- Garage – The garage should be large as much as possible, particularly if you need to park a vehicle inside it. If the garage has a doorway in to the house, this can be used as an alternate entrance. If the doorway is above grade level, there will be enough room to install a ramp or porch lift.
- House indoors – The area inside the entrance way should be large enough to allow a wheelchair to enter.
- Bathroom – The bathroom is another area where in accessibility is vital. Space is one of the major challenges. The bathroom space should be big enough to accommodate a wheelchair or walker if necessary. Choose a configuration that will allow the existing tub space to be converted in to a wheel-in-shower. Tub showers are practical way to house both bath and shower options in one space.
- Bedroom – Make sure the bedroom is easy to access from the corridor and there is room to widen the doorway.
- Kitchen – Make sure the kitchen is spacious for a wheelchair user to move around. Fitting lever taps, installing handrails and lowering the work tops in the kitchen would improve access for people with disabilities.
If you are moving to enhance accessibility, it is important to find a home that will be relatively easy and economical to modify.