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If you or a member of your household must use a wheelchair to get around, you may benefit from modifying your home. Designing all the necessary wheelchair accommodations is a process, but you can save time by making some basic adjustments.  The key is to consider how you can promote independent living and provide a safe, easy-to-maneuver living space.

Home Entrance: The first alteration you should make is at the entrance to your home. If you have room, build a wheelchair ramp for each entrance of the house. The costs of constructing a ramp vary depending on size and materials. When designing your ramp, make sure the pathway is wide enough, and consider adding handrails, a non-slip surface and a cover. You can also opt for a vertical platform lift if a ramp would turn your home’s exterior into a congested nightmare.

Stairs: For anyone confined to a wheelchair, navigating stairs can be a frightening experience. In order to simplify the task, install a vertical platform lift or stairway lift at every staircase in the home. This will not only provide full accessibility, it will give the wheelchair-bound individual a feeling of independence. Stairway lifts should swivel, which allows the operator to safely get in and out of the chair.

Floors:  Floors can also be problematic if you travel from room to room on wheels. If your house is decorated with carpets and rugs, it may be time for a change. Tile or hardwood flooring is ideal, but you can also use a low-pile carpet. Install rubber ramps to make thresholds safer, and cover any exposed cords on the floor.

Doorways: One of the most difficult areas to navigate while in a wheelchair is through a doorway. You can provide a safer and more pleasant experience for yourself or your loved one by widening the doorways in your home. Remove frames, take the doors off, or reverse how a door opens, and you will instantly turn the doorway into an approachable space.

Doorknobs:  Lower doorknobs or install automatic door openers for added accessibility. The bathroom can be a danger zone for anyone using a wheelchair. You can secure this area by installing a walk-in bathtub or lowering the threshold for the shower.

Kitchen.  You can make numerous changes in your kitchen as well. Lower the countertops, install appliances that are easy to reach, and provide roll-out storage units. You can also install a sink that allows the individual to roll his or her wheelchair underneath it. Adjust the location of all controls and outlets, and use rocker switches for lighting.

Phones: Replacing corded phones with cellular units or cordless handsets may also make life easier for anyone restricted to sitting in a wheelchair.

Other: It’s also a good idea to add conveniences such as a temperature control unit, safety bars and a pivoting chair. When it comes to making your home more wheelchair-accessible, you need to consider how the individual lives on a daily basis.

About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.

Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.