Home Improvements For Accessibility

Hope teamed with pragmatism is our formula for success in living with MS as a family.

Patti had to live focused on hope. I had to focus on anticipating and adapting the environment.

When the roof caves in you do not want to be scrambling from scratch to adapt. Most homeowners are going to remodel anyway so instead of thinking of a project for resale value think accessibility.

Take little steps some will likely not even be noticed.

Replace towel bars in bathrooms with grab bars. They will look basically the same BUT if you need to grab it for support or to pull yourself back up, it will hold.

If you house is more than one floor in height put a grab rail on the side of the stairs opposite the balustrade. If your stair well has no balustrades then install one on each side of the stairs. I’m not talking about chair rail ‘molding’, think wall mounted ballet bar.

Grab bars in tubs or showers are a godsend. Not just for the family member diagnosed with MS but guests or visitors with balance or age challenges. I have come to love them. Don’t get hung up on ADA recommendations of weight to support or suggested height. Install according to the family member with MS.

Chairs in showers can be simple to grand but oh so helpful. We kept it simple with just a plastic garden captain’s chair in the shower.

These adaptations basically benefit everyone and if you need to play the denial game, you can still tell yourself you have not modified your home for accessibility.

Seat belts in cars are legislated whether you think you need to wear one or not. The spouse caregiver has to be the rational one.

Living with MS as a family the person with MS has to factor in consequences. What is gained by a Mom home playing with children who falls down the stairs and knocks herself unconscious?

Grab bars not only reduce falls but minimize consequences if you do.

Now days there are a plethora of options for home commodes even at Walmart. Raising the height of the seat and/or built in grab bars make lowering and raising yourself from the commode so much easier and safer. Cleaning yourself after use may be a non-thought to the able bodied. However to someone living with the challenges of MS, having those grab bars can improve you wellbeing.

Patti had her wall walking years refusing any assistive technology. When the wall mounted ballet style bars appeared one day, she embraced them without a squawk.

When you need to move onto ‘wheelchair accessible’ modifications likely this will take team work or a contractor beginning with wider doors to your home and rooms. Believe it or not wheelchairs barely fit into most internal rooms if pushed. However if the person in them wants to self-propel, then they need space on each side for their hands.

Eventually our home remodeling included a wheelchair accessible shower and a 400 ft boardwalk/deck/ramp. Fortunately the little steps of adapting for Patti’s safety were already done and she could move onto wheels of freedom and independence.

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