In 2011, the AARP did a survey of older homeowners and found most of them preferred to “age in place” instead of moving into a nursing home or other form of senior housing.
“The overwhelming majority of people want to stay in their homes,” age-in-place consultant Alissa Boroff told The Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2014. “But the way we’re building homes, we’re not supporting their needs. There’s not enough universal design so people can age gracefully.”
Universal design refers to the concept of building homes so that they work for people at every stage of their lives. When that’s not the case, many homeowners wind up taking a proactive approach to aging and redesigning their homes to fit their eventual needs.
The Star-Tribune profiled a few couples who had remodeled their homes to make them more accessible. One added a bathroom with a walk-in shower and wheelchair accessible sink, while another added a bedroom and bathroom to their first floor.
It’s tough to say exactly how many wheelchair users there are in the United States. Some statistics claim there are nearly 3 million regular users of wheelchairs in the country, while a recent report published by the Disability Statistics Center of the University of California suggests the number is closer to 1.7 million. But no matter how you slice it, one thing’s for sure: That’s a whole lot of people.
If you spend the majority of your day—or your entire day—in a wheelchair, you know full well just how frustrating it can be to get from point A to point B. According to the aforementioned University of California report, for instance, “four-fifths of wheelchair users report that their local public transportation system is difficult to use or to get to.” And “two-thirds of mobility device users have limitations in one or more of the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL).” So the fact that most leisure activities aren’t designed to be easy for people with disabilities shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to any of us.
However, there is a good news for wheelchair-bound leisure seekers, both here in the United States and abroad. As accessibility issues are becoming more and more mainstream—and in some circles, more expected—theme parks, amusement parks, and other vacation spots that have traditionally been off-limits to those in wheelchairs are beginning to change their ways.
If you’re looking for a bit of traditional theme park fun but aren’t able to leave your chair, the following guide is a good place to start searching for opportunities.