By the year 2030, 20 percent of all Americans will be a senior citizen. And according to research from the AARP, most seniors would prefer to stay in their homes for as long as possible.
This often means making alterations to the home with wheelchair accessibility and mobility issues in mind. These changes can include:
- Adding a wheelchair ramp to the entrance of your home, complete with a wide-enough pathway, a non-slip surface and handrails.
- Removing rugs and thick carpeting, which can make using a wheelchair more difficult, and can present a trip hazard. Consider switching to tile or wood floors, or at least low-pile carpeting.
- Making sure your doorways and hallways are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs: 36 inches for hallways, 32 inches for doorways. Lowering doorknobs, switching to sliding doors or even putting in automatic door openers can also help make your home more accessible.
- Adding grab bars to the shower/bathtub and the space next to the toilet. To make a bathroom truly wheelchair accessible, you’ll need to replace the bathtub with either a roll-in shower, or a shower that has its own seat.
- Installing stairlifts or chairlifts for people who have trouble negotiating the stairs.
- Building multi-level counters in the kitchen, and buying appliances that are easily accessible for people in wheelchairs, such as refrigerators with side-by-side refrigerator/freezer designs.
And as you make these adjustments to your home, don’t neglect your closet space. Here are a few tips toward achieving a handicapped accessible closet:
- Widen the door. Most walk-in closets have a door that’s just two feet wide, eight inches less than the 32 inch standard we mentioned above.
- Lower the hanging rods inside the closet. If this rod is an integral part of the closet, install a second rod below it.
- Install a modular storage system – featuring shelves, rods and drawers – that can be set to use specifications after you work with a professional closet designer. You may be able to install powered units that raise and lower shelves and racks.
- A handicapped accessible closet should have a door that slides open and closed. A traditional swinging door design can make it harder to navigate in and out of the space. You may also want to consider a pocket door or a folding door. In any case, the knobs/handles should be low enough that a person with a disability can reach them.
- We always say that a great closet is one that’s well lit. You may need to relocate the light switch to make your closet more accessible.
If you’re looking for additional ways to make your closet handicapped accessible, turn to Closets & Cabinetry. Our design and storage experts can work with you and your loved ones to create a closet that’s safe, accessible and stylish. Contact us today to get started.