No matter how much you may fight it, aging is a part of life. Eventually, we pass our prime, and our strength and mobility will begin to decline. Despite the knowledge that changes to mobility are likely in the future, many people don’t prepare for these changes ahead of time. Instead, they wait until their reduced mobility leads to an accident or injury to acknowledge that changes need to be made in their homes to accommodate their reduced mobility.
But wouldn’t you rather prepare ahead of time instead of allowing yourself to be injured? Here are some changes you can make now that will keep your home accessible to you as your mobility decreases.
Hallway and Doorway Width
If you want to stay in your home, even if you have to rely on a wheelchair or walker in the future, then it’s essential that you ensure you will have enough space to navigate your home using your mobility device. The most common areas where space is an issue for wheelchairs and walkers are hallways and doorways.
Hallways and doorways should be a minimum of 34 inches wide, though 36 inches is preferable. This allows for easy navigation without worrying about bumping or scraping against walls and door frames. Obviously, widening narrow hallways and doorways does take some construction. This is why it’s so important to plan ahead and begin making your home more accessible early on.
Stairs often become a severe hazard for those who lose mobility as they age. It’s a good idea to anticipate this change and determine how you can adapt your home to accommodate new accessibility features. While you don’t need to install a stairlift or outdoor ramp before you need it, it is worth determining whether these changes are even possible in your home.
If you’ll need an outdoor ramp to get to your home, ensure you have space to install one. Consider whether or not you’ll have to curve the ramp to allow for proper grading in the slope. For your indoor staircases, make sure that you have a sturdy wall that can support a chair lift installation.
Bathrooms are another common area that becomes hazardous as people age. While minor changes like grab bars and safety handles or toilet seat lifts can be quickly and easily purchase and installed, larger changes like installing a walk-in bathtub take more forethought. Start planning now for how your walk-in tub would fit into your existing tub space. Will you need to make any significant changes to accommodate the swing of the door? What other changes might need to be made to fit one into your bathroom?
When you plan ahead for walk-in bathtubs and other major accessibility changes, you can keep your home accessible as your mobility needs change, rather than waiting until an accident occurs.