12 Safety & Accessibility Checks for Your Loved One's New Home




Finding a living situation that accommodates the needs of someone with disabilities- or even aging parents  -can be a difficult task, especially if you've never had to think about it before.

Whether you are looking to modify your own home to meet someone's unique needs, or you are helping them locate accommodations that will suit their needs better, here's checks to make sure you get the safest, most accessible home possible:

1) Doorways At Least 36" Wide

If your loved one has a wheelchair, scooter or walker- or if you think they may need one in the future- it's best to know ahead of time whether the doorways in a potential accommodation will facilitate these needs. Measure all doorways to ensure they're at least 36" wide to ensure your loved one will always get around their new home with ease.

2) Kitchen Surfaces Reachable from Seated Position

For your loved one to continue a thriving, independent life, they'll want to be able to accomplish tasks in the kitchen such as food preparation and medication management. Make sure the countertops and other important surfaces are low enough for the easy reach of someone in a seated position, so that even when they have a wheelchair, scooter, or just want to sit while they prep meals, they'll have ready access.

3) Staircase Handrails on Both Sides

Maximum support for going up or down stairs is important, so having handrails on both sides of any staircase or walk way is crucial.

4) Step-Free Entrances

One-story living arrangements with step-free entrances are best for those with a disability, or those advancing in years. Steps can be a great hurdle for those with sore and aching joints, and impossible for those with wheelchairs, so when choosing a new home for your loved one, having a step-free entrance is vital.

5) Walkways Free of Slips & Trips

Make sure all walkways are free of slippery, smooth surfaces, or curbs and rug-edges that may cause any trips or falls.

6) Doors Easy to Unlock & Open

Opening a door from a wheelchair can be a task, so make sure doors are light and their knobs or handles are easy to manage. Locks should be easy to manage as well.

7) Step-Free Shower

Bathing will become a bane if a tub or shower is difficult to climb into. Make sure the home has at least one walk-in shower without any steps. A shower with a built in seat would be even better.

8) Easy Bathroom Faucet

Twists nobs can get stiff, stuck, and hard to manage for aging loved ones with tight joints or arthritis. Choose a home with faucets that either have a motion sensor, a touch sensor, or a lever handle.

9) Grab Bars in Shower & Near Toilet

Having something to hold onto when getting into the shower or when near the toilet is very important to prevent slips and falls. If the home you're looking at doesn't have these grab-bars, ask the owner whether the walls would support having such bars installed.

10) Nonslip Mats in Shower

Make sure the shower- and any other floor that may get wet or slick -has nonslip mats to ensure your loved one is protected from falls.

11) Hot Water Set Below 120 F

Protecting your loved one from getting scalded from the shower or sink is as simple as ensuring the hot water is set below 120 degrees. Ask the landlord or owner if this is the current setting, or if it can be set at 120 to prevent any hot water accidents.

12) Smoke Detectors 

Finally, if any rooms don't have a smoke or carbon monoxide detector, make sure to test to see if you can hear them from those rooms when their alarms go off. It may appear like they're close enough, but don't leave anything up to assumptions when your loved one's safety is at stake.

These steps will get you well on your way to identifying or creating the perfect new home for your loved one, and help them continue to live full and independent lives. Good luck with your search!

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Jack Kell, CEO

Sherman Oaks Medical Supplies, Inc has been serving our community since 1997. We are JCAHO accredited and RESNA certified to help you with all of your medical supply and equipment needs.