Jan 17, 2019

How to Modify Your Home With Accessibility and Health in Mind

An estimated 15% of the world's population is currently living with a disability, and it's not always easy to determine how accessible and health-conscious your home is to the average person. If you're interested in making some healthy improvements to your home while also making it more accessible and habitable for individuals with certain disabilities, getting started is easier than you think with these tips:

Widen Doorways

The U.S. is the second largest construction market in the world, with a market share of 10%. While there are plenty of major renovations that can be made to increase accessibility, this project is very simple and can even be performed by any DIY handyman. But widening the doorways of your home allows for easier access for individuals in wheelchairs, those using walkers and other people with limited mobility. While widening the doorways themselves is a relatively labor-intensive task, it's often more feasible to invest in a door with offset hinges, allowing for a few extra inches of space.
"Many wheelchairs and walkers are too wide to easily maneuver through doorways. Widening doorways can be a costly job (up to $1,000 in some cases), but you can use some offset hinges to help swing the door clear of the opening to inexpensively add a couple inches of space, writes Rachel Brougham on Family Handyman.

Evaluate Flooring Type

Flooring is one accessibility aspect that many homeowners overlook simply because they don't know that it makes a difference. But the fact is, old floors or floors that are slippery can pose issues for those with limited mobility. This is also the case with worn-out carpeting that's overly think. Vinyl flooring, ceramic tile, and hardwood flooring are all considered to be safer options. That being said, you should be aware of the potential risk for VOCs during and after new flooring installation. If your flooring is more than one year old, many of the VOCs will have dissipated already. But if you're installing new flooring or painting your floor, go for an organic option and use VOC-free painting materials to minimize health hazards.

Modify the Kitchen

The kitchen is one area that those with limited mobility often have trouble navigating with ease. Fortunately, there are many smart modifications homeowners can make to improve kitchen functionality as a whole.
"Those looking to make their home more handicap accessible may have to make some changes to their kitchen. Try arranging appliances near the sink and counters to make tasks easier to perform. Move everyday items into lower cabinets for easy access," writes Brougham.

Consider Grab Bars and Bathroom Modifications

Finally, installing a grab bar in your shower can reduce slip and fall risks for everyone, but especially those with limited mobility. Similarly, consider your faucet handles and doorknobs -- it's often easier for those with dexterity and coordination issues to grab a handle rather than a round knob.
About 48% of homeowners planned to decorate their homes in 2018, according to a Houzz survey, and there are countless reasons to consider a remodel for your own property. Whether you're interested in putting your home on the market, renting it out, or simply making it more universally habitable, these tips are the best way to get started. And of course, if you're living with a disability yourself, don't hesitate to ask your doctor for home improvement recommendations that can help you live a safe and comfortable life.

Devin is a writer and an avid reader. When she isn't lost in a book or writing, she's busy in the kitchen trying to perfect her slow cooker recipes. You can find her poetry published in The Adirondack Review and Cartridge Lit.

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