8 Tips on How to Create Safe Accessible Homes

8 Tips on How to Create Safe Accessible Homes

How to Make a Home AccessibleExperiencing an injury or illness that is disabling will have a big impact on everyday life. Not only can it prevent you from being able to go back to work, but it may make living at home much more difficult as well. This is especially true for anyone whose disability causes issues with mobility. If this is the case, you will want to make your house more accessible. Fortunately, even traditional houses can be turned into more accessible homes for the disabled with a few renovations.

Making More Accessible Homes

The following are eight strategies for creating more accessible homes for those with disabilities to live in and use:

  1. Widen the doorways – If the disability results in the need to use a wheelchair, then you will need to have your doorways widened. The standard door frame isn’t big enough for a wheelchair to easily fit through, and the last thing you’ll want is to have to struggle to pass through every doorway you encounter. Simply widening them will make it easier to go from room to room, not to mention to enter and exit the house. A standard door frame is about 36 inches wide. Widening it to 42 inches should be adequate.
  2. Build ramps – If your home is raised at all and it requires that you walk up steps to get to the front door, then you may want to build a ramp. Even if there are only a few steps, a ramp is going to be necessary if you are bound to a wheelchair. Even if you don’t use a wheelchair, a ramp can make it much easier to enter and exit the home if you have issues with mobility or physical problems that make walking difficult (such as problems with your knees).

When it comes to the dimensions of the ramp, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) recommends that they are built with a 1:12 slope, meaning that for every inch of vertical rise there should be at least a foot of ramp length. This will make the ramp easier–and safer–for wheelchair users.

  1. Install curbless showers – If your bathrooms were all built with bathtubs, then you should consider removing one of them and installing a curbless shower. Bathtubs are incredibly difficult to get in and out of for anyone who is physically disabled and could pose a potential safety risk since it will be easier for to trip over the curb and fall. Curbless showers can be built so that anyone can walk right into the shower without having to lift their legs. It’s also perfect for wheelchair users. In addition to installing a curbless shower, you should also install grab bars. Grab bars will help to prevent slipping in the shower.
  2. Add ground-level cabinets – Upper cabinets are going to be impossible for anyone in a wheelchair to reach. Making sure that you install cabinets that are ground level will take care of this problem. You may even want to add things like pull-out racks and lazy Susans to make your cabinets even easier to use.
  3. Install toilet risers – Toilet risers help to add height to your toilets, which in turn make it easier for those who have difficulty bending over to use. Toilet risers typically cost less than $50 and are available at normal drug stores, which makes this home improvement an easy one to make.
  4. Remove carpeting – Carpeting poses a serious mobility problem for wheelchair users. The thicker it is, the more difficult it is to move over. Remove your carpeting and thick area rugs. Wheelchairs work much better on slick surfaces, such as wood, linoleum, or tile.
  5. Make light switches accessible – Light switches are typically installed so that they are easy for people to reach when on their feet; however, if you are in a wheelchair, you would have to reach upwards to find them. Lowering the light switches may not be the best option since this can be a bit pricey and might make them difficult to reach for anyone who is on their feet. Instead, consider using smart home devices. Smart lights can be programmed to turn on when they detect motion or can be controlled remotely through smartphone or tablet apps.
  6. Install gooseneck spouts – By installing gooseneck spouts in your sinks, anyone with physical disabilities will have a much easier time washing their hands or use the faucet since they won’t have to bend all the way over the sink to do so.

It’s worth noting that making these disability upgrades is not required by law for residential properties; however, many of them are required for public properties. Either way, they will greatly improve how accessible your home is to a disabled individual. Even if nobody is disabled, such renovations can improve the universal design of your home, thereby making it easier to age in place.

Paying for More Accessible Homes

Although certain disability upgrades are not that expensive (such as installing gooseneck spouts or toilet risers), some will cost a bit of money (such as installing lower cabinets or lowering your light switches/implementing a smart lighting system). If you were recently approved for SSDI benefits, then paying for such upgrades may be outside your budget, especially if you’re depending on your disability benefits to pay your bills. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration will provide back payments after your SSDI application has been approved.

Your back pay depends on how long it took for your application to be approved. In some cases, it can take up to two years to begin collecting SSDI benefits (especially if you had to appeal an initial denial). Back payments will be provided based on the length of time it took to be approved and the start date of your disability. This means that you could get a decent chunk of money as a result. This money can be used towards making your home more accessible.

While making your home accessible should be a goal if you or anyone else in your household is disabled, make sure that you know what your priorities are and that you carefully budget the money you receive. Besides paying for current needs first (such as rent, food, utilities, clothing, and the like), you may need to budget for other things first as well, such as paying for medical care, insurance premiums, physical therapy, health-related equipment, in-home assistance and more.

Only once you have budgeted for these items should you begin working towards making your home more accessible.

Schedule a free SSDI consultation today

Accessible homes are important for anyone who has experienced a disabling condition that makes it a challenge to move around their home on a day-to-day basis. However, you’ll want to make sure that you apply for and are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance before you begin investing in disability upgrades. This way, you’ll be able to budget for your needs more effectively and apply the back payments you receive from the Social Security Administration to your renovations.

For more information and advice on submitting an SSDI application (or for general information about SSDI benefits), be sure to schedule a free consultation by contacting us at Social Security Disability Advocates USA. You can reach us 24/7 by phone at (602) 952-3200.

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