Baby boomers today are facing knee and hip replacements, debilitating strokes, diabetic issues, heart problems: in general, a drastic change in lifestyle! It all sounds so depressing but facing these issues head on by having a plan can make the problems more bearable. Many times a client will have to spend time in a rehabilitation center preparing to come home, but what if the home is not very user-friendly for a person with new disabilities, whether temporary or permanent? You might want to check out Wesson’s page on accessibility remodeling.
Most of the time before a patient is released from rehab, a discharge planner or occupational therapist will make an on site visit to the home to assess the accessibility and mobility issues of a home. The first obstacle usually is just being able to get into the home. If using a wheelchair is only going to be temporary, a portable removable ramp such as pictured on the right may be the best solution. A ramp outside the home can be aesthetically pleasing to the eye such as the one above shown with vinyl railings. Another option may be to place theramp inside an attached garage to access the house so there is no exposure to the elements. If building a permanent ramp you may need a building permit, and remember, for every foot of fall your ramp should be 12′ long. Check this site for some more helpful tips.
Once accessibility to a home is managed, then it’s time to address safety and mobility within the home. Usually this means addressing bathroom issues. I found an excellent article by Debra Young published in the March 2011 issue of Rehab Management. She has this to say, “Modifications in a bathroom can run the spectrum from the addition of hand-held showers, anti-scald devices and a non-skid surface inside the bath/shower to the conversion of a tub to a walk in shower and the addition of a grab bars and/or a roll-under sink.
When considering accessibility for a bathroom, one really needs to make sure they are fully meeting the current, and potential future, needs of the client. Other than entrances/exits, the bathroom is a priority area for accessibility and independence. Being that the bathroom is considered to be one of the most dangerous places in the home, special considerations must be taken to increase safety and decrease overall falls risk. To assist with making appropriate recommendations to the physical layout, it is important to consider all persons in the home that will be using the bathroom as well as if the client will require assistance when using the space. Having enough space for the client, as well as a caregiver is important not only for accessibility, but for maintaining the safety and wellbeing of both parties. “