It’s time for family reunions and 4th of July cookouts, and your wheelchair doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying that time with your relatives. Unlike public buildings, most homes don’t have to meet standards for accessibility.
And your family members may not be thinking about how often you need to cath or how your spinal cord injury may affect your ability to be in the sun. So they may not be thinking about your access to the bathroom or cool places to sit in the shade.
Fortunately, with the right planning and a some simple modifications, they can make their homes accessible for your visit. Here’s how to help your relatives accommodate your chair so you can focus on BBQs, baseball games and water balloon fights.
Navigating Outdoor Stairs
Most homes have outdoor stairs leading to the main entrance. If your relatives don’t have a door that’s level with the ground, a portable wheelchair ramp can do the trick.
Portable wheelchair ramps come in a variety of formats:
- Rent a ramp — find a local installer to place a ramp for as long as it’s needed.
- Folding ramp — get a ramp that can be folded to fit into a closet or car. This option affords you the most freedom. As long as you’ve got space, it can come with you wherever you go.
- DIY — use this choice with caution, but if you’re handy with a tool set, it’s likely to be the most affordable option. Try this DIY ramp tutorial.
Ask your relatives to clear any debris and make sure their stairs are sturdy and dry before you arrive, so putting in the portable ramp is easy.
Remind Them about Indoor Stairs
Of course your relatives will be thinking about stairs that lead to an upper level or basement before your visit. They may be able to arrange their home so you can access a bathroom, bedroom, and the family hangout area without having to worry about the stairs, or they may even want to rent a stair lift.
But they may need to be reminded about other stairs around the house. Ask them to double-check any rooms that they have to step up or down into. They probably go in and out of these rooms without thinking. Fortunately, you can overcome these stairs with a small DIY ramp, as long as it’s sturdy.
Making the Bathroom Wheelchair-Friendly
The bathroom is often the most difficult place to make accessible for temporary visitors. The slippery floor, low toilet seat, and lack of grab bars can hinder your mobility. And if there’s a vanity under the sink, that may make the faucet out of reach.
Slip-proof mats on the floor and in the shower are a quick fix for slippery surfaces. A portable transfer bench can help with getting in and out of the shower, or onto the toilet.
You may be able to reach the sink more easily using a grabber. Watch how this vlogger does it. Though she’s at a kitchen sink, you can apply this same technique in the bathroom, if your relatives have a similar faucet:
Do you have any other tips that can help wheelchair users get ready to visit family? Share them in the comments!