Want to make your home more accessible? Remember these words: universal design.
It’s a term that means an environment that can be used or accessed by anyone. You’ll find it at work on everything from the electronic doors at supermarkets to the curb cuts that allow wheelchair users to get on and off sidewalks.
Universal home design is an important concept for people hoping to age in place. The easier is it to get around your home, the longer you’ll be able to stay there.
Here are a few ways to incorporate universal home design into your dwelling and make it a safer, more accessible place for you and your family.
Doors and floors
Cutting down on the amount of time you spend on steps is one of best things you can do to make your home more accessible.
Start at the entrance, where you can install a wheelchair ramp. Even if there’s no one in your home who uses a wheelchair, a ramp can be easier to navigate than steps.
Make sure the pathway is wide enough to fit wheelchairs and scooters. You’ll also need to widen the doorways both at the entrance and throughout the home to at least 32 inches to accommodate chairs and scooters. Consider making doors easier to operate too, whether that means installing sliding doors or even using automatic doors.
You may have to make some changes to your floors as well. Trying to move a wheelchair across thick carpeting can be tough, so consider switching to hardwood or tile floors, or at the very least installing low-pile carpets.
Finally, try to cover up – or move – any exposed cords that run along the floor. If your home still uses a landline, switch to a cordless phone.
In your kitchen, you’ll need to have enough floor space for wheelchair users to access the stove, sink and countertop. Consider having a multi-level counter, which will let people prepare food whether they’re standing or sitting.
Allow for a five-foot turning radius throughout the kitchen, make sure the space is well-lit and consider putting in single-level faucets rather than knobs to make things easier to grip.
Universal home design might be most important in the bathroom, a room that needs to provide safety, accessibility and comfort all at once.
Start with your shower, which you’ll need to adapt for wheelchair users or people who have limited mobility. This can mean putting in a shower with a seat or a roll-in shower, as well as adding a hand-held shower head.
You’ll also want to install grab bars near the bathing area and around the toilet for extra stability. Just be sure your walls are sturdy enough to handle these bars.
Avoiding the stairs
As we said earlier, a big part of making a home more accessible is reducing the amount of time you spend going up and down the steps.
That’s where a stair lift can come in handy. It allows you to continue to use the upper floor of your home while avoiding the stairs, which present a serious fall hazard. You also won’t have to take on more drastic renovations like turning one of your first floor rooms into a bedroom.
Are you ready to embrace universal home design? Pennsylvania Stair Lifts is happy to help. With one of our lifts, you’ll be able to make your home safer and more accessible for yourself and your loved ones. Contact us today to learn more about our stair lifts and other accessibility solutions.