Most homes are not built to accommodate people with disabilities, so if you’re expecting a guest with limited mobility, you may want to consider some additional preparations to welcome your guest. A few thoughtful steps on your part will make your guest’s stay more safe and comfortable.
Placing portable wheelchair ramps over the front steps will allow your guest to enter the house safely and easily. Many are constructed of lightweight aluminum, and some wheelchair ramps fold up when not in use so they can be quickly stored away. Read our article on How to Choose the Correct Wheelchair Ramp to further assist you in selecting the best wheelchair ramp.
Make sure the sidewalk is completely clear of snow and ice, and relocate planters or other decorations that may get in the way of a scooter, walker, or power chair. Outdoor steps should be kept in good condition, free of debris, and have non-slip treads for the most secure footing possible. If an indoor staircase is not carpeted, adhesive non-slip strips can be applied for additional friction.
Measure doorways to ensure they are wide enough for a wheelchair or other mobility equipment to comfortably fit through. Many wheelchairs are at least 26" wide, so an opening of 36" will accommodate most. If necessary, temporarily remove a door from its hinges to gain an additional inch or two of space.
Remove tripping hazards such as throw rugs, loose cords and wires, baskets, or plants, and rearrange or relocate unnecessary furniture that can create an obstacle for a wheelchair or walker. Even worn carpeting or uneven flooring can cause someone to trip and fall, so be sure to seek out trouble areas with a critical eye. Use cord covers to prevent cords from getting tangled underfoot (do not simply hide them beneath a rug) or place electrical cords along walls to keep them out of traffic areas. Children’s and pets’ toys should be put away, and if your guest’s stay is only for a short time, you may want to consider kenneling your pet if they tend to be overenthusiastic with guests or during household activities.
A threshold leading from one room to the next with a significant rise or drop in floor level presents yet another risk. Low-profile threshold ramps (one on each side, if necessary) make the transition from dining room to living room smooth and accident-free.
Many accidents may occur in the bathroom, particularly if your guest stays overnight and requires use of the shower or tub. An elevated toilet seat and grab bar may help if your guest has limited leg strength. A slip-proof shower mat, a hand-held shower head, a bath seat, and even a long-handled shower sponge are all valuable accessories to assist your guest in remaining safe and stable in the tub. Remember, towel bars are not designed to support human weight and should not be used for assistance in lifting oneself.
Overnight guests will appreciate the use of a master bedroom or other main floor bedroom closest to the bathroom. Master suites also have the additional room needed by someone who uses a wheelchair or rollator to turn around and maneuver. A nightstand with a large surface area keeps important items such as the telephone, glasses and medications within reach.
Make sure your hallways and stairs are well-lit for those who may not see well at night or wake up disoriented. Nightlights placed strategically in bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms are always helpful.
If you anticipate your guest will spend time in the kitchen during their stay, make a point to turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove top and keep drawers and cupboards closed. You may even want to rearrange some of the more accessible kitchen drawers and cupboards with often-used utensils and dishes like extra coffee mugs and teaspoons or move favorite foods to an accessible bottom shelf in the refrigerator.
These carefully thought-out preparations and adjustments around your home will help make your guest’s stay a safe and smooth one. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us and we’ll be glad to assist you!