As parents or other loved ones begin to age, many people are starting to think about their homes in a new way. Some are even trying to sell their homes because of the amount of stairs. Bathrooms are another area which need work, if you have a loved one that is in a wheelchair or has some difficulty getting around. If you are thinking about making your bathroom wheelchair accessible, listen up.
Experts say first of all you need to squeeze as much floor space out of the room as possible. ADA recommends a full 5-foot turning radius for a wheelchair but this is usually not practical in most residential-size bathrooms. So it would help if you could switch your vanity to a wall-mount sink, and convert your bathtub into a “curb-less” shower with a shower curtain. You’ll need convenient grab bars, but choose from the new, more decorative models with hidden screws and more elegant designs. They can also double as towel bars. You can also swap the normal hinges on the entry door to offset hinges to create a wider opening, or better yet, install a wider, out-swing door.
Next up, change the doorknobs to lever handles for easier use, and eliminate any bumps at the door thresholds. Toilet height is a personal preference, but most wheelchair users like the taller, “comfort height” models. Make sure you add some homey, decorative touches in order to avoid the institutional look. Accent lighting, wallpaper or paint will help soften the look. And put the main light on a motion-sensor switch. Most people appreciate an automatic lavatory faucet that turns itself on and off. Good luck!