Making Your Home More Accessible for Your Future Needs

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, one in five Americans will be older than 65 in less than 20 years. That’s almost 80 million people. According to surveys, most of these people will want to remain in their current homes for as long as possible. (Harvard, 2017) This poses a unique challenge, however, as most homes are not equipped to handle limited mobility.

The Joint Center projects that by 2035, 17 million older households will include at least one person with a mobility disability. This means everyday household structures like stairs, traditional bathroom layouts, and narrow doorways and hallways can pose a major issue for those wanting to age in their homes. Join the ameriCARE team as we explore ways to help make your or a loved one’s home more accessible for the future.

Man in a wheelchair using a ramp outside of home to enter front door

Replace Or Update Stairs with Ramps

Almost every home has some form of steps – even single-story ranch homes have a few stairs leading into the home. Luckily, there are several ramp solutions that can turn these hazards into accessible pathways for those with limited mobility. Collapsible ramps are great for easy storage while portable ramps can help you quickly update any step into a wheelchair accessible entry. There are even threshold ramps that create a gentle slope through doorways for easier movement throughout the home. (Kelly Mercer, 101 Mobility, 2019)

Update Your Shower with Mobility Aids

There are many ways you can make bathing an easier task for people with limited mobility. Look for free-standing shower chairs or stools. These can be easily moved and cleaned whenever needed and create a safe place for people to sit in the shower. There are also wall-mounted bench options that can fold up along the wall if the shower is being used by someone else.

Along with finding the proper seating solution, you will want to look for grab bars. These are easily installed, stainless steel or plastic railings designed to help the user hold on to something while maintaining their balance. (Disability Horizons, 2016)

Elderly woman using handrail to walk

Use Handrails to Provide Additional Support

There are many different styles of grab rails available at your local hardware store and online that can be easily installed throughout your home. According to Kelly Mercer at 101 Mobility “for those with poor balance, prone to falls, low mobility, or who simply need help getting up out of chairs, beds, or bathroom areas, well-placed handrails can make a world of difference. (Kelly Mercer, 101 Mobility, 2019)

Replace Your Doorknobs

For those with mobility limitations due to arthritis or disability, doorknobs can be difficult and stressful to use regularly. Doorknobs require a firm grip and full rotation of the wrist which is not possible for many aging people. You can replace almost any existing doorknob with lever handles or push/pull bars that require less movement and hand strength. (Kelly Mercer, 101 Mobility, 2019)

Senior woman pushing husband in wheelchair outside on concrete sidewalk

Update Your Exterior Pathways

Rough terrain like decorative stones, broken up concrete or asphalt, or dirt pathways can make wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or crutches very difficult to use. Consider resurfacing your existing dirt pathways with crushed limestone for a smoother path. Pave walkways or driveways with new concrete or asphalt to create a clear surface for mobility aids. Sweep walkways, driveways, and entryways frequently to remove debris that can cause people to trip. Be sure to repair or replace broken sidewalks. (Global Disability Rights Now)

Preparing to age in place can feel overwhelming. There are a lot of details to consider, especially when the future is unknown. But you can get help! As you start to create a plan for you or a loved one to age in place, consult an in-home care expert to learn more about how to make your home accessible. At ameriCARE, we connect experienced, compassionate, and skilled in-home caregivers who can help you strategize the best ways to maintain independence as long as possible.