At some point or another, most of us will be faced with some form of disability – either as a result of an accident or from the natural afflictions of old age.

According to the local Human Rights Commission, an estimated 4 million Australians suffer from disability. The Commission also says some 50% of people over the age of 55 have difficulty with their mobility.

A lack of mobility often means we have to use a wheelchair, scooter, rollator or stroller to get around.

But is your home wheelchair-friendly, and would you know where to start to make the necessary modifications?

Easy does it

Although designing all the necessary accommodations can be a process, time can be saved by making a few basic adjustments.

The main point to take into consideration is how you can encourage independent living and provide a safe, easy-to-navigate home space.

The US-based organisation The CareGiver Partnership has these valuable points to share:

Entrance: This should be your first alteration and, if space and pocket allow it, you can build a wheelchair ramp for each entrance of the house. Make sure the ramp is wide enough, and consider adding handrails and a non-slip surface.

Floors: Replace all carpets and rug floors with tiles or hardwood. If you absolutely must have carpets, consider the low-pile range. For floors, you should also install rubber ramps to make thresholds safer, and cover any exposed cords.

Stairs: Install a vertical platform lift, or stairway lift, at every staircase in the home. This gives the wheelchair-bound individual a feeling of independence.

Doorways: You can widen doorways by simply removing frames, taking the doors off, or reversing how a door opens.

Doorknobs: Lower doorknobs or install automatic door openers for added accessibility.

Bathrooms: These can be a danger zone for anyone in a wheelchair. You can secure this area by installing a walk-in bathtub or lowering the threshold for the shower.

Kitchen: Lower the countertops, install appliances that are easy to reach, and provide roll-out storage units. Fit a sink that allows the individual to roll their wheelchair underneath it. Adjust the location of all controls and outlets, and use rocker switches for lighting.

Phones: Corded phones should be replaced with cellular units or cordless handsets.

REMEMBER: A more accessible living space will give you more independence and add to your quality of life. These few changes will make a world of difference

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