The 3 Most Important Home Accessibility Renovations:
One Step At A Time
Renovating a home can be an expensive process depending on a number of factors (materials, designs, complexity, etc.). However, depending on your accessibility needs, you do have the flexibility to take things one step at a time and focus your resources on a few key locations. This blog will walk through what we believe to be the three most important places in your home that should be renovated for maximum accessibility.
1. One Step At A Time May Mean No Steps At All - Entrance Accessibility:
The first location you should focus if you have accessibility issues should be the entrance to your house. This is kind of a no-brainer - if you can't get into the house, there is no sense in renovating the rest right? Over 3.3 million people in the United States currently use wheelchairs with 1.8 million of those users being 65 or older. Whether you're using a wheelchair temporarily or you are planning for the future, it's a good idea to gain entrance accessibility to your house with a quality ramp and wide doorway. It doesn't have to be the main entrance - maybe there is a back door - but similar to an insurance policy, you're going to be grateful during an emergency.
One quick tip for creating an accessible entryway is the lower the slope of a ramp the safer and easier the use of the ramp - the general rule of thumb is 1" of rise will require 12" of ramp. Along the same lines of the initial ramp, each doorway will likely have a raised threshold that will need to be addressed. Luckily there are a ton of commercial threshold ramp products in stores or online so that you can easily find the right size and style ramps for outside and inside your home.
2. Kitchen Accessibility Is The Key To Independence:
The next location can be one of the more costly renovations, but also one that can make the most impact on the quality of your life. The kitchen may not be on your radar due to the potential for expensive equipment/appliances or just the fact that it's usually one of the largest rooms in your house. However, for many disabled or elderly people, cooking for yourself is one of the true pleasures of independence that sustains their quality of life.
There are a few things to remember when renovating for kitchen accessibility. The main purpose will be to make things easily accessible depending on your mobility range. If you are in a wheelchair, look to create spaces that are 5x5 feet for and adequate turning radius. You should also consider altering the counters and lower cabinets to account for the additional leg and kick plate space needed. An inexpensive way to do this is to just remove the cabinet doors in the locations where you will spend the most time (sink, cutting area, etc.). Another inexpensive tip for someone who is wheel chair bound is to attach a mirror above the stove that allows you to see the full stovetop from a lower angle. There are many different ways to renovate a kitchen for accessibility so we suggest contacting a local Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) to come give you an expert assessment.
3. Your Most Personal Place - Bathroom Accessibility:
Last, but certainly not least, is one of the most personal places in your home, the bathroom. You will spend a lot of time in the bathroom out of necessity as well as for many other daily activities. According to recent studies, one in three people over the age of 65 fall each year, and 80% of those falls occur in the bathroom. This is caused by a number of factors including slippery surfaces, awkward angles, and the fact that you are generally alone during this time. Being one of the most hazardous locations for a senior or handicapped person, the bathroom is considered a critical place for remodeling.
There are many ways to gain bathroom accessibility depending on your needs. Wheelchair and mobility issues can be addressed by a wide range of updates from simple installations of grab bars to installing barrier free baths and toilets. A general rule is that you never want things to be difficult to reach or obtain. For this, baskets and low, easily operated drawers can provide good storage solutions. Some inexpensive solutions to common problems are to remove any cabinet doors to allow for added leg room and to purchase a foldable stool to help easy any mobility issues you may have in the shower. Depending on the severity of your needs, the bathroom can become a safe place with just a few minor and relatively inexpensive modifications.
In addition to creating a safe and beautiful environment for you thrive in, there are also some tax benefits. The tax laws state that the cost of installing entrance or exit ramps, modifying bathrooms, lowering cabinets, widening doors and hallways and adding handrails, among others, are home improvements that can be deducted as medical expenses. So with the ability to recoup some of the funds, remodeling for home accessibility becomes something more than just a good safety decision, it's also a good financial decision.