If you're part of the "sandwich generation" of adults tasked to deal with simultaneous caretaking duties for both aging parents and young children, you may be struggling to give adequate time and attention to all the tasks on your plate. Often, the most sanity-saving solution when dealing with a parent who has mobility issues or other disabilities that require supervision is to move your parent into your home so that you and other family members can provide constant care and companionship. However, few modern houses are designed to easily accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility aids, and -- absent careful preparation -- your parent may not feel safe navigating your home without assistance. Read on to learn more about some of the structural modifications you can make to render your home handicap-friendly.
What modifications may you need to make to accommodate a disabled parent?
If your parent uses a wheelchair, cane, or walker to get around, it's important to ensure that all the doorways and hallways in your home are wide enough to accommodate these assistive devices. Fortunately, widening a too-narrow doorway is a simple enough project that can often be tackled by the enterprising do-it-yourselfer over a long weekend. In most cases, a minor doorway expansion shouldn't require you to reroute any wiring, plumbing, or other hidden components.
Making an entire hallway wider is a more difficult project, particularly if you'll need to "borrow" from several rooms to do so. You'll likely want to enlist the help of a professional contractor or drafter to design your new hallway in a way that makes the best use of your home's space and features.
Another part of your home that will often need some minor work to become handicap-accessible is your bathroom. If your bathroom already has a shower stall in place, you may be able to transform it into a "roll in" shower appropriate for wheelchair users by replacing your sliding shower door with one that doesn't have raised tracks.
If your bathroom only has a tub, you may need to invest in the purchase and installation of a walk-in tub. These quick-draining tubs have a swing-open door, allowing those with mobility issues to wheel themselves in (or even scoot along the floor), eliminating the risk of a painful or debilitating fall on a slippery surface.
Finally, you'll want to evaluate your kitchen. If your parent is confined to a wheelchair but is still cogent and able to perform manual tasks, he or she may gain great pride or satisfaction from helping prepare meals for your family -- however, most kitchen counters, sinks, and cooking surfaces are too tall to be easily reached from a wheelchair. Installing a swing-out preparing surface or standalone center island with a small sink can allow your parent to access everything he or she needs to make his or her own meals or help prepare family dinners.
What are some other factors you'll want to consider when designing an accessible home?
When making modifications to your home, it's important to keep resale value in mind -- even if you don't intend to sell your home for many years. By reviewing some of the public building codes and requirements put forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) before starting on any modifications, you'll be able to ensure your home complies with these accessibility measures (rather than simply designing changes around what works best for your parent's desires and needs). Constructing a fully ADA-compliant home can improve your odds of fetching a higher price upon resale, particularly with an aging Baby Boomer population and projected higher demand for in-home caregiving services. For more information, contact a company like Cornerstone Contracting.