If you've been in an accident and have lost your ability to walk, you'll need to adapt your home so you can function normally from a wheelchair. You'll be doing everything differently from cooking in the kitchen to bathing in your tub. While a home remodel might be the best way to accommodate your wheelchair, there are some other things you can do to make your life easier too. Here are some ways to make your home more wheelchair accessible:
One of the most important changes you'll need to make is adding a ramp to your entry door. You can have a permanent one installed, or you can buy a portable metal ramp from a medical supplies store. A portable ramp is a good option if you rent your home, and if you live with someone who can help set it up every time you want to leave the house.
Otherwise, installing a permanent wood or concrete ramp is best. Keep in mind, a ramp should be built according to your local building codes for safety reasons. The code may require you follow the recommendations of the ADA and install a ramp with a rise of one inch for every foot.
Lower Kitchen Surfaces
If you're confined to a wheelchair, you'll definitely need lower counters in the kitchen. If you can't redo all your counters, you may be able to install a single island or table in the kitchen where you can prepare food from your chair. You may also need to buy a floor cabinet to store cooking supplies and food products within easy reach.
Adapting the kitchen sink could be your biggest challenge. The sink needs to be lowered, and the bottom opened up, so you can wheel your chair underneath it. If you can't alter your kitchen because you rent, you might try a portable camp sink like you would use to clean fish when you're camping. You can lower the legs to the height you need, and you'd have a source of water for cooking and washing dishes as long as you could attach a water hose and drain hose to the sink.
If you can't use your legs at all, or if they are very weak, you'll need some assistance moving from your wheelchair to the couch or bed. You can buy various transfer aids from a store that sells handicapped equipment and supplies. For instance, a transfer board can be placed between your chair and bed, so you can slide across on it. You could also install support bars, or use transfer slings. A mechanical transfer sling makes it easy to move you from place to place without hurting you or the person helping.
Bathroom Handicap Aids
Your bathroom can be a dangerous place when you can't support your own weight very well. If you're not steady on your feet, you'll need sturdy grab bars you can use to support your weight with your hands. You can also install arms on the sides of the toilet, and a swivel transfer chair on your tub.
If your bathroom is small, it may not even accommodate your wheelchair. If that's the case, you could buy a bedside commode to use in place of a toilet. You might be able to install a shower in your basement or garage for less cost than totally remodeling your current bath.
It's a good idea to have your home assessed before you're discharged from the hospital or rehabilitation center. An occupational therapist can offer helpful advice on making your home safer and easier for you to adapt to when you're confined to a wheelchair. Being comfortable in your own home will go a long way towards helping you cope with being confined to a wheelchair.
To learn more, or if you have other questions you want to ask, contact a company like Alaska Mobility.