There’s a reason a lot of us find this time of year so stressful. The holidays can be anything but a holiday when you’re hosting guests.
And when one of those guests has a disability, your job goes beyond basic cooking and cleaning to making sure your home is as accessible as it is hospitable.
That’s why many people rent stair lifts around this time of year: it gives their guests who might have mobility challenges a way to access every part of the home.
But that’s not the only thing you can do to help visitors who might have disabilities. Here’s a list of some of the ways you can make your home more accessible and welcoming this year.
For guests with mobility issues
As we said earlier, you might want to rent a stair lift for the holidays. This will help both wheelchair users and older visitors who might have trouble on the steps.
You can also rent a temporary wheelchair ramp if your home has a lot of steps.
Invest in a shower seat and removable showerhead for guests that will be staying overnight.
Remove things that might become low-level obstacles, such as throw rugs or power cords.
Most wheelchairs are between 24 and 27 inches wide. Give wheelchair users enough space to go from room to room. This may mean – temporarily – removing smaller pieces of furniture.
For guests with Alzheimer’s or dementia
Speak with their caregivers ahead of time to learn your guest’s emotional triggers or stressors.
Put up a sign to guide people to the bathroom.
Set aside a quiet space where guests can nap if they feel restless.
Lock doors and block stairways.
Your guests may remember you, but they may not always remember recent milestones. You may have to talk about things like a wedding or the birth of a grandchild as if they’re learning about it for the first time.
Above all, remain positive and try to answer their questions in a way that doesn’t make them feel bad about forgetting things.
For guests who are deaf or have trouble hearing
Make eye contact when you talk with them, even if you’re speaking to someone acting as an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter. If there’s no interpreter on hand, have a note pad handy – or just write things using the notes app on your phone.
Better still, learn a few phrases in ASL, like “It’s good to see you” or “It’s time for dinner.”
Communicate normally. There’s no need to shout or make overexaggerated movements with your mouth while speaking.
For guests with visual impairments
Allow them to take your elbow for guidance when showing them around. Keep an eye out for steps and inclines.
Show them to their seats at meals and let them know where things are on the table using clock directions. (“The cranberry sauce is at your two o’clock.”)
There’s no need to speak to people with visual impairment in a louder voice.
Introduce yourself with a hug or handshake, saying your name in the process. If there’s someone else with you, let the guest know where they are in relation to you. (“My son Jim is standing to my right.”)
If you need to move to another room during a conversation, be sure to let the guest know. (“I’m just stepping into the kitchen for a second.”)
Your holiday guests deserve to feel at home in your house, no matter their circumstances. At Pennsylvania Stairlifts, we’ve dedicated ourselves to making that happen.
Whether you need a permanent stair lift installation or just want to rent a stair lift for the holidays, we’re ready to help. Contact us today to learn more about our stair lift rentals. We look forward to helping your guests feel at home.
Spring is here, bringing with it plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy your backyard. But for people with mobility issues, this can be easier said than done.
That’s why we want to spend some time today talking about ways to make your backyard – from decks to patios to walkways – more accessible.
In some cases that means installing devices such as stair lifts and platform lifts. Other times, accessibility means making certain adjustments.
Here are a few ways to make your backyard for accessible this spring:
1. Spaces and paths
Everyone wants a smooth, level place to sit during backyard gatherings, and people who use wheelchairs are no exception. Wheelchairs need about five feet of space in which to turn around. Ideally, you should aim for more than that, with spaces scattered around the area.
Most stores, restaurants, and government buildings take steps to accommodate people with disabilities. It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the law.
But things aren’t always as easy at home. Most homes aren’t designed with wheelchair users in mind. However, with a few modifications, it’s possible for people with disabilities to live comfortably. Here are a few handicap accessibility tips for your home:
Stair lift installation is easy when staircases are easy. A staircase that goes straight from point A to point B requires far less work than a curved staircase.
That doesn’t mean curved stair lifts are impossible. While they present a challenge, they can be done.
Curved stairways – or staircases that have any sort of irregular design – are more expensive to work with. That’s because no two curved staircases are the same, which means you’ll need a custom stair lift.
There’s a lot of work that goes into getting your home ready for holiday guests: cooking, cleaning, adding fresh sheets to the guest room.
But when one of your guests has a disability, your job is to make your home not just hospitable, but accessible. If this is new territory for you, don’t worry. We’ve put together a few tips to help guests who have disabilities feel more at home.
Here’s a phrase that we should leave in the past: “Confined to a wheelchair.”
Having to use a wheelchair doesn’t mean you’re trapped, especially not at home. From stair lifts to ramps, there are options available to you or your loved ones to make your home more accessible:
1. Wheelchair ramps
Ramps are the most common way of making a home, business or public building more accessible to people who use wheelchairs, scooters, or simply have difficulty getting up and down stairs. A contractor can install a permanent ramp made of concrete or wood, but a folding or modular ramp can also work if you’re on a tighter budget.
Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, most public places are designed with people who use wheelchairs in mind: ramps or ground-level entry ways, handicap parking, automatic doors.
But when it comes to your home, it’s a different story. Chances are your house wasn’t designed with wheelchair use in mind. And that can be a problem if you or a loved one finds themselves needing a wheelchair to get around.
At Pennsylvania Stair Lifts, this is the type of thing we think about all the time. Making homes more wheelchair-friendly is our business. That’s why we’ve put together these tips for making your home wheelchair accessible.