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Home improvements for the mobility impaired

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  • Home improvements for the mobility impaired

    Anybody out there care to weigh in on home improvements to make if/as mobility declines? Seems like Dave might have composed something in the forums at one time?

  • #2
    Just had my driveway paved, asked to have it graded better to remove a step from my front porch. Went from 3 to 2, rebuilt the steps to be 16.5 inches wide instead of 11 inches to give me more room on the steps.


    • #3
      I kind of do stuff as I need it. My current house was previously owned by a wheelchair user so it came with a ramp to the front porch and other niceties. Most recently, I replaced the ramp. I've added grab bars to get me from my bedside to the bathroom etc, as I can walk a few feet, but not unaided. A problem from my M.S. comes up, I find / build a solution for it.
      Retired engineer, now hobby farmer with goats, chickens, an old dog,and a lazy barn cat!
      Watch my goats at
      Active in amateur radio
      Linux geek, blogging at
      M.S. since 2000


      • #4
        Hi, easy one is to change interior door knobs to lever door handles, if your home has knobs. So much easier to open, especially if sitting. Nightlights for areas you go at night time is simple fix too. I also bought a smart device and plan to hook up to different light switches and overhead fans. I use it now to give reminders, quick updates on news, time, weather conditions. My family plays a name that tune game on it. It keeps score of who wins... It seems the only limit of a smart device is ones imagination! Im working on figuring out how to use it more for scheduling tasks and appts.
        here is a link comparing different devices
        this link gives the following examples:
        • Manage Your Calendar and set up reminders.
        • medication reminders
        • Listen to Audio books
        • Set up To-Do lists
        • Control home appliances and TVs
        • Set up alarms
        • Control your lights
        • Listen to the latest breaking news
        • Fitness, mindfulness meditation
        • how to spell a word and it will spell it for you
        Your question is always on my mind! I think Less easy to fix in home is width of door frames, shower/bath entrance, height of sinks, toe kick space under cabinets, and flooring/transition thresholds. But A bath chair or bench and detachable shower head is cheaper than walk-in bathtub. If you splurge on walk-in tub, make sure it drains fast because one can’t exit until it’s empty! Microwave is better installed counter height or lower to access safely. And I so miss my wall mounted oven which didn’t require me to bend to remove hot food and lift up to counter like my floor resting oven. I confess that I love remote control blinds, a friend thinks it’s her best investment (I don’t own, yet). We had one house without a garage door opener and I was amazed at what a difference it makes to have one. I prefer Sink faucets with one lever rather than 2 knobs. And definitely front load laundry machines, on raised platform or foot. I hear good things about bidets, but someone else will need to weigh in on that. One would think it would be helpful...


        • #5
          Great input everyone. I want to add Dave's radiant bathroom floor heat here. I've had the opportunity to experience radiant floor heat and can say it is a true luxury in the bathroom, hadn't thought about it until Dave mentioned it.

          I'm looking at working with a developer/builder on a patio home with ageing in place with MS in mind. Many newer homes are designed around the Great Room concept eliminating hallway issues and making manuverability and dorway issues easier to resolve anyway. Adding ramps, grab bars, minimizing thresholds, lowering at least some countertops, automating lighting and sound seem easy to do up front. Bathroom and closet design might be more difficult and more expensive but much easier to do up front also. Ending up with a modified gym in the study along with the desk and computer sould work.

          My hope is that this thread might serve as a go to place for building or remodeling living space for those of us with mobility issues. Truly appreciate the input.



          • #6
            Larry, I've had similar thoughts, I was fortunate enough to inherit a 100 ac woodlot up north and I imagine retiring up there someday. I am dreaming of a low maintenance house that I can park near the main entrance (under a roof so I don't have to clear snow), a steel roof that slopes away from doorways, no basement-no stairs. Geothermal heating which includes AC. An open shower like Dave's looks amazing - no more bathtub for me! I feel like starting from scratch (if possible) should be easier than converting a house.


            • #7
              Here's a good story from the Washington Post about the subject of home remodeling. Geared to those who are aging, but it applies to general disabilities as well.

              In 2010, Vanessa Piala and her husband Jim Belikove modified their home near Chevy Chase, Md., by digging out the basement and adding an in-law suite in anticipation of moving her parents there from New Jersey.

              But after her mother had a stroke, Piala stayed with her parents in New Jersey for 18 months before moving them both to an assisted-living facility in Maryland.
              “My mother was in a wheelchair before she passed away in 2016 and my father was in a wheelchair part-time until he died at 97 years old in 2018,” says Piala. “I used to bring them to our house but the struggle with the wheelchairs up just a few steps was difficult and the in-law suite was inaccessible to them.”

              Now Piala and Belikove are in their mid-60s, and their experience with her mother has informed them on new modifications to their home. They’ve added a first-floor primary suite, a wheelchair-accessible bathroom and an open kitchen to accommodate mobility issues they anticipate facing in the future.

              FULL ARTICLE:
              Dave Bexfield