A disabled-friendly home

A disabled-friendly home

A disabled-friendly home

If there is a disabled or elderly person in the family, it is essential to tailor your home to meet their needs too, asserts DBN Murthy

As people grow older, a home needs to be disabled-friendly to make life of such elderly individuals easy. It must assist them in coping with their daily lives in a way that is as near to normal as possible, without them having to seek assistance from anyone else.

Most homes are designed for ‘normal’ people who do not need any external assistance to manage their daily routine. People can go about their lives comfortably in their homes. But there are many others, for whom even simple chores can be a challenge. Prevention is the mantra while making a home safe for the disabled and elderly.

Ramp instead of stairs

Steps at the entrance to a home as well as inside are a major hurdle for disabled people who find it difficult to manage steep steps on their own. It would be desirable to have a low-gradient ramp besides the steps so that those who have difficulty can use it. It is not practical to have lifts in such homes as it is expensive and needs regular maintenance.

Such lifts (or elevators) are possible in multi-storied/ high-rise buildings. Sometimes, a gentle rise involving steps with less height could do the trick for those who are older, but in good health. It depends upon the architect, designer and engineer to make such stairs that could be more user-friendly.

Similarly, all door steps may be avoided if the home is to be wheelchair-friendly. Locks and bolts should be at convenient heights for ease of assess. And these should be simple but effective.

A bathroom or toilet could be a tricky area for the disabled and elderly residents. This is where most accidents occur. The flooring should be skidproof with railings so that one can hold this while entering and exiting the bathroom or toilet.

Western-style commodes are common in most homes and they are easier to use for the elderly/disabled persons. A bath-tub may not be suitable for all, but a shower cubicle without steps could work well. An adjustable shower chair can prove useful for those who find it hard to stand for long.

Lower, the better

In the kitchen, the height of the cooking platform should be designed in such a manner that it is easy to use even while sitting in a wheelchair. The flooring in the kitchen should not be too smooth, lest someone slips. Cupboards should be within easy reach for better accessibility by all.

The same rule applies to the position of switches and controls that must be operated without much physical effort. In some cases, switches and controls could be kept at nearly floor level so that these could be used by one with the help of his or her foot without any risk.

Use of remote control to operate radio, TV, DVD player, computer, fan, lights and the AC makes the life of a challenged person easier. Telephones, computers and music systems should be placed on tables at a suitable height for all to operate physically if need be.

Some persons with disability may even work from home, given the right job and conditions at home. In such cases, a home-office can be made-to-order. It needs imagination and discussions with the person(s) with disability to make modifications that need to be done to make the life of such people nearly normal.

All the suggestions of the disabled, to the extent that is feasible and within reasonable cost, should be incorporated in the existing home or in a home to be newly built. More attention needs to be given to make user-friendly innovations in newer constructions. Let the change begin at home.

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