Independent living can be difficult to achieve if your home isn’t ready for it. A newfound lack of mobility may prevent you from doing everyday tasks as you used to. Creating systems for different parts of your home can help you remain self-sufficient. Whether it be living with a disability or aging in place, there are many ways to achieve an independent living situation.
Extending your independence and being able to continue living in your home alone allows you to have freedom of choice in your life. While this may seem costly, there are options for the financial burden this could place. There are government assistance programs that allow you to use the money for additions to your home for accommodation purposes. Additionally, if you’ve lived in your home for some time you’ve likely built up a good amount of equity that can be
leveraged in a home equity loan. This can be especially helpful for accessing funds immediately in one lump-sum payment.
Giving your space any necessary updates gives you more ability to stay in your own home. Take a look at these tips to ensure each room of your home is up-to-date for your lifestyle.
1. Continue your kitchen use
Your kitchen shouldn’t turn into a place to avoid because of lack of access. To ensure safety in the kitchen, you don’t want to have things stored too high up, especially heavy items. Having everything at eye level or at an arm’s reach will cut down on the chance of dropping things. Look to add pull down cabinets and pull out drawers so you can still grab things with less mobility. A lazy susan cabinet or pantry could also keep everything at the same level and make
it easier to search for the items you are looking for. For heavier items, especially ones you would normally keep at a lower level, creating a raising system takes away the need to bend down and lift up heavy appliances. Simple changes can help you to continue using your kitchen as your abilities change.
2. Allow For Accessible Bathroom Storage
Accessible bathrooms commonly include handrails and barrier free showers. You will want to ensure the showers in your household are walk/roll-in showers. They should be 30 inches wide by 60 inches deep with a 60 inch wide entry to allow for wheelchair entry according to ADA standards. Another aspect to take into consideration is shower storage. The height of your shower items needs to be attainable for your mobility. Putting in your own storage containers allows you to choose the height. You may want to use soap dispensers so you can easily access your products.
Outside of the shower, you may want to take into consideration the sink as well. Make sure your sink is ADA compliant, at least 34 inches above the floor. There also needs to be 60 inches of clear floor space to accommodate wheelchair users. Having one row of drawers in your bathroom design keeps everything at a reachable distance and also allows more space below if you need to make it wheelchair accessible. Removing the barriers in the bathroom and keeping it neat can give you independence and privacy in a place where you want it most.
3. Create Space in Your Bedroom
The bedroom is another place where you would want privacy and discretion. Keeping it functional and spacious allows you to move around easier. Make sure you choose a dresser that suits your ideal level of comfort when it comes to storing things. You may want to look into ones that have deeper drawers so you don’t have to look through multiple sections for just a few things. Putting organizers and spacers within the drawer can help keep things separated so everything doesn’t look like a cluttered mess and it’s easier to look through.
If you have a lot of electronics, especially those with cords, it may be time to look into getting automation systems set up. This can keep the floor free of cords that could be a fall-hazard and allow you to operate your electronics using your phone or your voice. Smart screens and plugs allow you to control lights and electronics with your voice rather than having to get up and flip a switch. You can also schedule actions so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn the living room lights off at night. These systems can also connect throughout your home, so you can control the whole house from one room.
4. Clear Up Your Closet
Being able to continue using closet spaces even when your mobility is lacking is important in being able to maintain your independence. A big part of being able to use the closets is making sure it’s accessible. Implementing door widening and an automatic door opener increases the accessibility of your closet which can help if you are in a wheelchair. It can also provide you with more functionality in your closet and make it easier to move around.
Shelving and hanging rods should be adjusted to suit your needs. Make sure the rods are at a height that can accommodate your reach. Pull down rods may be a good option as well to keep everything organized while still allowing access to what you need. Shelves also need to be at a height that suits you, both for reaching and potentially for a wheelchair as well. You don’t want to install shelves so low that it impedes a wheelchair’s ability to move throughout a room.
5. Accommodate for Service Animals
Service animals, while helpful and necessary, are still an addition to your house. They will need their own food, leashes and harnesses, a crate, and more that you might need space for. Making sure they have their own designated area in your home can keep it from getting cluttered with things and keep it out of your way. Having bins or small cabinets for their items frees up floor space so it doesn’t become a hazard to you. Making sure everything is labeled can also help you to remember where things are stored. A doggy door may be something to think about adding as well. A trained service dog will be more independent than your average animal, so allowing it to go outside when needed without you having to open the door for them makes it easier for the both of you.
Organizing your home can not only make it look nicer, but make your life easier. It allows you to live like you have been, just with more access. When it comes down to your future, you can call the shots with just a few adjustments, and make sure your house fits your current and potential needs.