Starting a home renovation project takes a great deal of planning, and making home modifications to suit a person with a disability is no exception. Before you start your home remodel, consider these four tips to help create a functional, inviting space for a loved one living with a disability:
1 – Consult knowledgeable experts. Until you or someone close to you lives with a disability, it’s hard to fully grasp the daily struggles that these individuals can face. However, understanding a person’s needs when they have a disability allows you to better plan for modifications that will make independent living easier. A great resource to help identify the essential modifications is an occupational therapist. Thanks to their experience working with individuals with disabilities or physical impairments, an occupational therapist will be able to spot pesky problem areas in the home and offer valuable solutions to these problems. Parents who are making home modifications for their child with a disability might also consult an occupational therapist to help predict future needs as the child ages.
You might also consider finding building experts with experience in designing homes for people with disabilities. Having an experienced contractor, architect, or home designer that is well versed in universal design and ADA-level accessibility will make the process that much painless. These experts will guide you through the hassles of a home renovation and ensure that all changes made benefit your needs or those of your loved one.
2 – Identify problem areas in the home. After building your knowledgeable team, the next area in a home remodel for someone with disabilities is to identify trouble spots. These are areas in your home where functionality is lost for someone with a disability. For instance, a person who uses a wheelchair will need more space to maneuver in hallways and around furniture. Other potential areas to be modified for a wheelchair user might include:
- Lowered cabinets, countertops, and workspaces
- Low pile carpets, hardwood floors or other slip-resistant flooring that allows wheelchair mobility throughout the house
- Ramps or a home elevator
- Grab bars installed in key areas of the home such as the bathroom
- Wider doorways
- ADA-compliant bathroom features such as a no-threshold shower or higher toilet
It’s important to point out that not every person with a disability uses a wheelchair. A person with a brachial plexus injury like Erb’s palsy might have trouble with fixtures and appliances that require fine motor skills. Somebody with poor vision will do better with fewer physical obstacles and more light throughout the home. By considering all of a person’s needs and evaluating all of the solutions available, you can design a home that perfectly meets your loved ones needs and reduces the stress of their disability.
3 – Utilize technology to work for you. Technology has been seeping into our homes and adding convenience to our lives through smart home solutions. But, many people don’t realize how helpful it can be for someone who struggles to live independently. First off, smart home technology is much more than a home security system. It can include programmable thermostats, automated locks, and lights that can be controlled through the use of an app. While it is merely a convenience to someone without disabilities, it can be life-changing for someone who can’t move without assistance. From the touch of a tablet, a person can control the temperature in their home, turn lights on and off, and control the lock on the doors in their home. These features can provide a sense of independence as well as feelings of safety and security.
4 – Seek out new financial options. Any home renovator knows that a home remodel can get expensive, and it’s no different when making modifications for a person’s disabilities. These necessary changes can certainly add up financially, and it can be a lot to handle for someone already paying medical or care bills. However in this case, there are a few unique financial options that people with disabilities should consider to help pay for home modifications.
- If your disability is due to a faulty product, an accident, or even medical malpractice that has resulted in a birth injury like Cerebral palsy, legal restitution may be available to you. Any money awarded could be used for necessary home modifications and other long-term medical expenses.
- Consult your local Council on Independent Living (CIL). Not only could they provide useful insights for your home modification, but many of these organizations and disability advocacy groups allocate part of their budget to helping local residents with these necessary changes. Call the National Council on Independent Living to find your local chapter at 703-525-3406.
Thanks to disability advocacy campaigns, advanced technology, and a greater demand for solutions, independent living with a disability or physical impairment isn’t impossible. There are hacks and clever new solutions to provide the best home living environment for those seeking comfort and ease in their daily lives.