Hearing the news your child has been diagnosed with a disability will change your world. There are so many emotions and changes you will go through. Have you considered the changes that need to be made for your home? Is it equipped to have a wheelchair in it? How do you make the necessary changes to ensure your home is a safe place for your child to be?
Modifying Your Home
Having a child changes every aspect of your life. As your child grows you need to make modifications to your home to make it safer for your child. When your child has a physical disability, there are even more modifications that will need to be made.
The biggest questions are; what exactly needs to be done to your home? What is the cost associated with remodeling? Are there other options out there? With everything else you are facing, thinking about remodeling is the last thing on your mind. Here are some ideas to hopefully help ease any stress related to modifying your home.
Making Your Home Accessible
Probably the biggest modification that needs to be done to your home is a ramp at the entrance of your home. Wheelchairs are heavy, and as your child grows, the weight will increase and it will become harder to lift your child into the home.
Luckily there are several ways a ramp can be installed. If you are handy or know people who are handy, you can install and make your own ramp. For those who have the means, you can also have a ramp professionally installed. If you are in a pinch and need a ramp while you try to figure out what to do, there are some companies that will let you rent a ramp.
Doorways for Wheelchairs
Chances are you are in a home or apartment and you do not have the option of remodeling or widening your door frames. There are some options to help you get the most room possible. You could always remove the door from the frame, which is a temporary option. They also have different door hinges that allow the door to open wider and move out of the frame. This gives you every ounce of space needed.
If you do have the option, you can widen the door frames to accommodate a wheelchair and other medical equipment. The recommended width is at least 36 inches wide.
Flooring for Wheelchairs
One thing that could get overlooked in the flooring in your home. Anything that is lumpy or could snag on the wheels of wheelchairs or medical equipment becomes a hazard and an annoyance. Replacing or removing rugs and carpet can help to avoid this. A temporary easy solution would be to lay pieces of plywood down to help in areas that can’t be fixed or replaced.
If you are able, replacing the floors to something such as laminate or vinyl will help a flat smooth even surface.
While your child is young, there might not be a need to modify your bathroom yet. As your child grows, some thought needs to be put into modifying the bathroom to help ensure more ease and comfort for both you and your child.
Some families have redone their bathrooms to an open concept shower, with no doors or ledges. This style of bathroom is all waterproof, tile throughout with a drain in the middle. This can be done as a DIY project or you can also hire it out. Most homes have a tub/shower combination, taking out the tub will create ample room for you to maneuver your child.
Making a Rental Accessible
If you are in a rental property, speaking with the landlord about making modifications is a great start. By law landlords are required to comply with ADA and the Fair Housing Market Act. A landlord cannot charge you more in rent or evict based on you or your child’s disability.
They are also required to allow modifications to their home or apartment to make it accessible. You as the tenant are financially responsible for those changes. Communication is key when dealing with a landlord, being open about what you are planning to do and how you are planning to do it, will help keep relationships amicable.