Did you know that nearly 40% of Americans over the age of 65 are living with at least one disability according to the U.S. Census Bureau? Despite this rather disturbing statistic, most houses still lack basic accessibility, even when the current occupant experiences limited mobility. Thankfully, an increasing number of architects and designers are hard at work, aiming to make private homes as well as public buildings as accessible as possible, without compromising on the aesthetic value of course. Such accessibility is of great importance and there are a number of ways in which it can be achieved, to the greater benefit of seniors with disabilities as well as anyone living with compromised mobility.
How is accessibility best achieved?
Basic accessibility can be achieved during the initial construction (or remodeling) of a house as well as by integrating a number of features into the home. From an architectural perspective, an accessible home will, for example, have a clear route from the road to the road front door, no steps at the entrance to the house, wide enough doors for wheelchairs to pass through and reinforced walls that will allow the installation of handrails and grab bars. All living areas must have wheelchair-accessible routes leading to them and enough room for a wheelchair to comfortably turn around in.
What other adaptations can improve accessibility?
When designing a house that will ultimately be accessible to all, you don’t want to create a space that mimics a cold and impersonal hospital wing. With a practical yet creative vision and through careful execution, an accessible home does not have to be devoid of the latest design trends.
You are still able to have your quartz kitchen counters and laminated cabinets as long as they designed according to the correct dimensions to promote ease-of-access. The same applies to your bathroom although it may be a good idea to install a roll-in shower for wheelchair users.
When it comes to the bedroom a lower bed with grab rails may be of great use to someone with mobility issues. As long as the areas remain clutter free with easy-to-reach light switches and electric outlets, you are free to decorate the room to your heart’s desire.
Accessibility needs change over time
Even the fittest and most agile senior may become dependent on a wheelchair or other walking aid as time passes, highlighting the importance of having basic accessibility in place in a home as soon as possible. Although there may be no immediate need to purchase a mechanical bath chair or bed with side railings, it does help if the doorways are already wide enough and that there is a ramp in place next to the stairs leading from the porch to the garden. As the need for accessibility increases, more adjustments can be made as required.
Creating a home that is accessible for all will make it substantially easier for a senior to age in place. Not only will all current physical needs be catered for immediately, but any future requirements can be addressed swiftly and effectively, all while maintaining a stylish, visually-pleasing design.