|S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0||HOME IMPROVEMENT|
PROVIDING FOR A HANDICAPPED-ACCESSIBLE HOME
By SHUBHANG K. PATEL
A handicapped accessible home is on the minds of many people these days. With advances in medicine and longer life spans, handicaps and disabilities are often a part of many families’ lives. There's a good chance someone close to you is in need of a handicap accessible environment if you are reading this page. Because of disease, an accident or aging, many people each year find themselves unable to function in a normal healthy manner.
Small changes can be implemented without any cost or inconvenience to provide a handicapped- accessible home. The most immediate change would be to clear the paths and walkways. Whether it is crutches, walker or wheelchair being used, be sure that the pathways are wide enough and cleared of obstructions. Safety and ease of movement are your first consideration at this time. Prevent tripping and falling by keeping an eye out for loose rugs, sharp corners or furniture legs that may extend into the walkway and making sure children do not drop items into the walkways.
To make it easier for you to maneuver your wheelchair, remove any loose carpeting or rugs. It doesn't make a difference if you have a mechanical or electric-powered wheelchair; it's easy to get caught on carpeting that isn't as secure as it once was. Rugs will get caught in your wheels, you can simple remove them and replace them with new carpet that fits more snugly to the floor. This should make it a lot easier for you to move around not having to worry about caught rugs in your wheels.
Adding handrails to the handicapped-accessible home offers support and extra security to the elderly and disabled. The height of the handrails could vary according to the needs of the person.
The kitchen as the heart of the home is often the main gathering place for the family. Making changes to make a handicapped-accessible home kitchen will aid not only the disabled, but also make the kitchen safer and easier to use for the entire family. Since much of the work in the kitchen is done standing, choose cushioned flooring material such as cork or vinyl that will minimize leg fatigue for the elderly or people with leg or lower back pain. A non-slip finish will help those using crutches, a walker or wheelchair. Under cabinet lighting will make life easier for the cook with limited vision. Adding contrasting borders around the edge of a room can also aid the vision impaired mark boundaries. The same technique could be used to mark the edges of counters and islands.
Install a scald-guard valve on your kitchen faucet to protect the young and the elderly from sudden changes in water temperature. If limited hand or wrist strength is an issue, use single lever style faucets that are smooth and easy to adjust. A hot water dispenser installed at the sink will make it easy to prepare coffee, tea, or soup without having to turn on the stove.
All of these changes, even the smallest, will help to provide a handicapped-accessible home. Keep your home safe and secure and gain peace of mind, knowing you have provided the best environment you possibly can for your loved one.
Shubhang K. Patel, president of SAVITARA – General Contractors in Florida, can be reached at 1-800-245-9944 or e-mail at email@example.com. Orlando (407.427.2098). Tampa Bay (727.437.2098). Lakeland (863.438.1098). Lake County (352.578.1144).
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