Relying on a wheelchair to give you extra mobility can bring freedom to you but can also be the cause of some concerns in your home's layout. When you use a wheelchair, stairs can become a challenge and doorways, hallways, and some rooms may be a tight fit for your wheelchair. Here are some tips to help you make the changes in your home so you can get around your home in your wheelchair.
Adding a Stair or Wheelchair Lift
When you need a wheelchair or other motorized scooter to help you get around, you may find it helpful to install a wheelchair or stair lift to help you use the stairs in your home. A wheelchair lift is a larger platform that accommodates your entire wheelchair and yourself. A stair lift is a powered seat you sit upon as it lifts you up the stairs. The decision you make in this choice can depend on your own physical ability. To use a stair lift in your home while you are in a wheelchair, you would need to be able to get in and out of the chair lift or have someone in the home that can help you do this. A wheelchair lift does not require you to get in and out of your chair.
A wheelchair lift ramp needs a larger area to move up and down your stairs than a more-compact stair lift chair does. This is something to consider if you are in a wheelchair as your home may not have the space required to install and use a wheelchair lift on your stairs. If you have enough mobility to be able to move yourself from your wheelchair to the stair lift when using the stairs, a stair lift can be a better option. Then, you can have a second wheelchair waiting at the top of your stairs for when you arrive to get yourself around the upper story of your home.
Price for stair and wheelchair lifts can be a factor in your decision. For installation and cost of a stair lift on a straight set of stairs, the price can start at $2,000, but for curved stairways with landings, the cost can start at $5,000. The cost to buy a wheelchair lift for your stairs can start at $3,000 with a $500 installation fee. To buy and install a wheelchair lift on a staircase that is curved or has landings can cost $10,000 or more.
After you decide what type of lift to go with, you should consider how you want it powered. Most lifts are battery powered and are charged when the lift is stopped. Batteries usually need to be replaced every two to three years. Electrical lifts don't rely on a battery and don't need to be recharged, but also won't work during a power outage. Electric lifts are also much louder when they are in operation.
Make Wheelchair-Accessible Home Spaces
Another aspect you should consider when using a wheelchair to get around your house is if your wheelchair will fit down hallways and through doorways. Also, make sure you have enough space in each room for the wheelchair to completely turn around. A wheelchair needs a 60-inch circle to comfortably change direction in a room.
Make sure all the doorways and entrances in your home are wide enough to allow your wheelchair to fit through comfortably. It is common for homes to have 30 to 32-inch wide interior doorways and 36-inch wide main entrances. Measure your home's doorways and entrances to see which ones are too narrow. You may need to widen some doorways to measure 36 to 42-inches. A 42-inch wide doorway has been found to be useful for a wheelchair to make a 90 degree turn into a bedroom.
You can hire a home contractor to widen your doorways and rebuild the door frames. You can also try removing an interior door from its door frame to give you an extra half-inch of space or more for the wheelchair. Then, install a curtain in the interior doorway for privacy.
It can be helpful to remove one or two walls in your home to allow more space for your wheelchair to maneuver between rooms. For example, remove the wall between a bedroom and bathroom or bedroom and living room to give more room space for your wheelchair to maneuver. Stick to removing non-load bearing walls in your home as it can be more expensive and requiring more work to remove load bearing walls.
These tips can help you make your home wheelchair-friendly. For more tips or assistance, visit resources like http://cornermedical.com/