Making Your Home More Accessible For Handicapped Family Members

modifying homes for handicap residents

Homes should be welcoming environments for every family member, including those who may have limited mobility and require mobility assistance devices like walkers or wheelchairs.

There are a lot of potential scenarios where a family may need to hire a company like Procraft Windows to enlarge entryways and work with other contractors to install things like ramps and wheelchair lifts. Homeowners can be injured, develop conditions like arthritis or Parkinson’s that makes walking unassisted more difficult, or an older parent or grandparent with limited mobility might move into their home.

The average homebuilder does not generally build with accessibility top of mind unless a family is paying for a new custom home build or the homes are being built in a senior community.

Most families shopping for a new home don’t want to limit their choices to the handful of houses that have wheelchair accessible entryways and hallways. Homebuyers usually prioritize finding a home in the right area with the layout and features that meet their needs, which is the way it should be.

The only part of a home you can’t change is its location – most other things can be modified.  


Wheelchair and Walker Door Modifications

Widening entryways is one of the more affordable home modifications that can make a big difference in a person’s quality of life. Entryways should ideally be between 34 and 36 inches wide. People who can’t afford entryway modifications or homeowners who just need a couple more inches of width on an entry door may also want to consider offset hinges, which may add an inch or two to an opening.

Some people in wheelchairs also prefer 42-inch interior bedroom and bathroom doors, which is much wider than the average 28, 30 or 32-inch interior door. Extra-large interior doors allow for easy turns from a hallway into a bedroom for people in wheelchairs.

Thresholds can also be a significant impediment to someone in a wheelchair or walker. Eliminating thresholds or minimizing them to as short a heigh as possible is usually ideal.  

Choosing the right door hardware can also help make a home more accessible. Some people may have reduced grasping or gripping strength, making traditional round, turning doorknobs difficult to operate. Lever-style handles that don’t require a strong grip can often make opening the door a lot easier to open and close.

Procraft Windows has extensive experience modifying structural door and hallway openings to ensure members of a household with limited mobility have an easy time getting inside and navigating without impediments.


Aging in Place

No one wants to move out of their home for mobility reasons if they can avoid it, but a lot of people who require the assistance of mobility devices sometimes feel like they have no choice.

There are a lot of factors to take into account when someone with a wheelchair is moving into a home. Light switches may be too high to be easily reached. Cabinets can prevent people from reaching a sink and washing their hands or doing the dishes. Hallways and doorways to bedrooms, bathrooms or patios can be too narrow to easily navigate.

These struggles face more than two million seniors using wheelchairs and another roughly seven million who require walkers or canes to get around. About one in 14 people in the country have some kind of mobility impairment. Those numbers are expected to balloon up to roughly 17 million of the nation’s households by 2035 as the population ages.

In 2015 there were roughly 8 million Americans between the ages of 75 and 79. By 2035 that population is expected to be closer to 17 million. People aren’t just living longer, they’re also much more likely to continue being physically capable of living on their own later in life.

There will inevitably be a greater need for housing solutions that meet the unique needs of people who may no longer be able to get around unassisted. Investing in structural mobility enhancements may actually make your home attractive to a larger number of buyers when you go to sell it in 10 or 20 years.  

Fair Housing Laws

It’s also worth noting that renters are more likely to require mobility modifications in a home than owners. Renters are entitled to make “reasonable” modifications by fair housing laws. Widening doorways is an explicitly listed example of a modification that counts as reasonable.

Renters are usually required to pay for making those changes, and they may be required to undo some of those modifications when they leave.

Does Your Seattle Home Have Accessible Doors and Door Openings?

The carpenters at Procraft Windows have decades of combined experience modifying door and window openings. We also install all types of doors, including sliding doors, entry doors, bi-fold and stacking doors and French doors. If you want to make sure your home is accessible without sacrificing aesthetics or ease of use, Procraft Windows can help.

We’re committed to the safety of our clients. If you require assistance with any type of structural modifications for doorways, windows or hallways, give us a call at 260.361.5121.

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