SPECIAL GUEST POST
Parenting With Disabilities: Home Accessibility Is a Key to Better Quality of Life for Those Living with Disabilities
Just because you live with a disability doesn’t mean your home life should be encumbered. You can live in a house that promotes your independence, rather than hinders it. Here are some ideas for finding an accessible home or modifying one to better suit your needs.
Finding an Accessible Home
Evaluate Personal Needs
One of your first tools in finding a home to meet your unique circumstances is making a home accessibility assessment. Weigh carefully what your existing needs are and what you expect future needs to be. You might need a step-free home with grab bars in the bathrooms, or you may need doorways that are wider than what traditional homes offer. You might be able to find a home that meets your current needs and modify for future needs later. Some homes are considered minimally accessible, some are considered easily modified for accessibility, and some are fully accessible. If you live with a progressive condition, you might decide to look for a home that is minimally accessible but can be easily modified for your later needs if it currently satisfies your personal criteria. For instance, a one story home with a spacious kitchen and bathroom could potentially be made accessible with minimal remodeling. You can list the items that are must-haves, those which are preferable, and those which would be nice but not necessary to help with the house-hunting process.
Newer Home Designs
There are a couple of key trends helping those with mobility issues find new housing. One influential housing trend is referred to as “universal design.” This can be a boon to your housing search. As explained by the Centre for Universal Design Australia, universal design is oriented toward making our world one in which people of all abilities, sizes, and ages can participate fully. A home built on universal design concepts is designed to meet the needs of a mom pushing her baby’s stroller or someone in a wheelchair. It’s a terrific movement that means your chances for finding a readily accessible home are increasing. Another trend in newer homes is wider hallways and doorways. The desire for spacious, open living areas, and to stay in a home throughout life, are making it easier to find an accessible or easily modifiable home.
Modifying an Existing Home
Remodeling can often be the most economical way to match your needs with your desires. Depending on your situation, the choice to modify an existing home is sometimes the best option. Perhaps you have a home that meets many of your needs in other ways, such as proximity to your workplace or to family members, or that is close to public transportation. Or, you might find a property while house hunting that is your dream home outside of a few alterations. If you elect to remodel a home, you will need to carefully assess your unique needs and what the actual property offers.
For those living with disabilities, extreme caution should be taken to prevent falls.
As Angie’s List explains, “nearly half of all falls happen at home and can be prevented by reducing risk factors, especially in hazard areas such as the bathroom.”
There are a number of modifications you can make to help reduce your risk of falls in the bathroom, such as installing grab bars, refinishing a bathtub with a texture for traction, and installing a zero-entry shower. Some experts recommend installing an elevated toilet seat for easier use.
Another important consideration for many people with disabilities is wheelchair access. You may need to have someone build a ramp to make a home more accessible, or you could elect to install a lift. Another idea is to install slide-out storage in the kitchen and vary counter height for seated food preparation. Evaluate your needs and what the home offers to make the best choices for you and your lifestyle.
The ideal home for someone with a disability promotes independence and freedom. Carefully assess your needs to assure your home meets them effectively. You can enjoy a better quality of life with an accessible home.
About Our Guest Post Author: Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org
My husband and I both have disabilities. We’ve always wanted children, and knew that because of our disabilities becoming parents and parenthood, in general, would require extra planning and prep.
From the get-go we started saving for IVF treatments and making modifications to our home that would make us and our future children safer. Along the way, we’ve picked up a lot of great resources on planning and preparing for parenthood as parents with disabilities and we’ve learned some valuable lessons, too.
Today, my husband and I have two amazing kids, and I thought this might be a good way to show my gratitude to the universe for all the ways we’ve been blessed.