There's No Place Like Home... For Accessibility
by Laura Adams, Member of the St. Louis Chapter
To enjoy cooking, bathing, keeping house, or moving around in (and out) of the spaces in your home, make it as safe and comfortable as you can. It’s well worth it to spend the time and money to create a home in which you claim maximum independence, where the simple, yet rewarding, activities of daily life are possible. There is a ton of help available from accessibility experts. Reach out until you find a good fit for you.
When Marsha announced that we would have this newsletter as a vehicle of communication for our St. Louis Chapter, she asked whether anyone had topics about which they’d like information or discussion.
Thanks to the person who responded with a great suggestion: He was considering some modifications to his bathroom to make it safer and easier to use as his physical strength diminishes, and he wondered how to go about it.
Sometimes, the hardest part is getting started.
Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals.
A cursory internet search brought up a lot of St. Louis area resources. Because of the abundance of information, there’s something for whatever it is you might be considering, from installing simple enhancements like grab bars to full scale interior and exterior remodeling.
How to get started? On the internet, St. Louis Wheelchair, offers these suggestions on how to think about modifying a home:
How To Start Accessible Home Modifications
- Start by making a list of areas in your home that are now or soon will be problem areas. Write them down as you go. Have a friend or family member assist you.
- If someone in the house will be using a wheelchair, use a wheelchair while doing the assessment to experience the barriers more clearly and from that person’s perspective.
- Don’t forget the outside of the house. Assess driveways, walkways, steps and doors for barriers, proper lighting and accessibility.
- Make a list of what items you would like to see or think would be beneficial in each area. (Note: St. Louis Wheelchair has a catalog and sells the products they use in their designs.)
- Prioritize your list. This will help you and the home modification specialists know what to work on first and help guide your home modification budget.
Contact St. Louis Wheelchair or another remodeling contractor or consultant who will evaluate your “needs” and guide you through the process.
Another internet listing is STL Design and Build –– “… services include interior and exterior modifications, and we’ll guide you every step of the way. With us, The Sky’s The Limit, so call (314) 798-9856 today or fill out our contact form for your free initial consultation.” (Contact form can be found at their website.)
Cohen Hilberry Architects Cohen Hilberry Architects lists accessibility design as a specialty. If you plan a renovation and your budget allows, contacting a professional consultant/architect may yield the best results. A consultant will listen to your wants, needs, and aesthetic expectations. They will work with you to produce a plan that a contractor can execute. This personal and professional experience is expensive, but could add value to your home while bringing more benefit than you imagined.
At Stay At Home Solutions, there is information about tax credits available to qualifying individuals who spend money to make their primary residence more accessible for themselves. You’ll find the guidelines and restrictions at the website. If you qualify, you could receive credits up to $2500 in Missouri – that means $2500 against your state tax liability at the end of the year. There is also information about grants and loans for modifications. Veterans may be eligible for grants to do accessibility remodeling, in some cases covering 100%.
More ideas about modifications that make a home safer and more comfortable for someone with declining physical abilities – climbing steps, rising from a seated position, stepping over things, standing, and others – are available at 101 Mobility.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association (mda.org) has many resources to browse and access. Some resources are also available through Medicare and AARP if you are a subscriber to either. Medicare will do an annual home visit that helps you assess obstacles to daily functioning.