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Home Accessibility: Finding the Right Home and Making It Perfect for Your Needs

By Patrick Young of the blog AbleUSA.info

Living with a disability or mobility issue is never easy, but you can make it much more manageable by prioritizing home accessibility. If your home isn’t tailored to suit your specific needs, you’re making things much harder on yourself. Any focus on home accessibility will consist of both finding a home that, structurally, suits your needs as well as taking steps to modify that home even further. Here are some things to consider.

Finding the Right Home for You
Let’s get this out of the way -- you’re never going to find a home that perfectly suits your needs. You can, however, get pretty close. As long as you find a home that doesn’t complicate your mobility issues/disabilities, then you should be able to modify it to near perfection.

Here are a few things that you may want to look for in any potential home:

  • One-story
  • Wide hallways/doorways
  • Low/grade entryways (for ramp access)
  • Level outdoor areas
  • Reachable countertops in kitchen and bathroom

 

Some things, like the home’s floor plan, are hard to alter. If you use a wheelchair, you may want to avoid multi-floor homes, for example. If you can find a home that checks off 75 percent or so of your accessibility requirements, then you’re off to a good start.

Whether a home is right for you isn’t solely about the structure of the home itself. It’s about location as well. As Angela Colley at Realtor.com notes, “it's important to clarify what your needs are in terms of disability - you may need certain services, like close proximity to public transportation or local pharmacies.”

Also, there are programs out there -- both governmental and private -- that help those with disabilities find affordable housing. Check here for some good options.

Making an Accessible Home Perfect for You
We all do things to turn our houses into our homes, but for someone with a disability, this takes on a whole new meaning. Home modifications can turn a merely tenable situation into a comfortable one. But costs can add up. For example, a typical remodel of a bathroom is between $5,964 and $14,867, according to HomeAdvisor).

Two of the cheapest and easiest home modifications that benefit people with nearly any mobility issue are installing grab bars (a pro will usually charge around $200 for this work) and extra handrails in high-danger areas (kitchen, bathroom, stairways) and improving the light quality in the home. The latter, according to studies, can boost visual acuity (very important for those with all kinds of disabilities) in at least 82 percent of people. It’s important to start there.

After that, you can move onto other accessibility mods like wheelchair ramps (typically costs $1,000 to $2,800), widening doorways and hallways (if necessary), and adjusting the height of counters in the bathroom and kitchen. Though major structural changes can be done to any house, you will save money in the long run if you settle into a home that doesn’t need too many of these massive-scale alterations. Start by asking yourself this question: Is everything I need on a daily basis (food prep, bathroom, bed, etc) easily accessible no matter how I feel?

Finally, don’t forget that technology can be your friend. The days of the SafeAlert and panic fall buttons being the only options for those with disabilities are gone. Nowadays, smart (automated) home solutions can help you control everything from the lighting, thermostat, home security, grocery ordering, and help you contact your friends, family, and medical professionals. You don’t need to just get by in your home. Prioritize accessibility.

 

Patrick Young is a writer and manager for AbleUSA.info, a lifestyle blog dedicated to men and women living with disabilities.

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