This week, we have explored a couple of ideas to help make your rental property more handicap accessible. Although there have been some thoughts put forth, they have so far been the more obvious of the bunch. This article is meant to help you begin thinking critically about options you can choose and modifications you can make that you may not have thought about if you are not or haven’t taken care of someone who has a physical disability.
The bathroom. It is, in any home, one of the most dangerous rooms in the house. According to a 2011 study done by the CDC, about 81 percent of injuries that occurred in the bathroom were from falls alone. Two-thirds of injuries occurred in the shower or tub and almost the entirety of the rest of the injuries were using the toilet. While many people simply get in and out of the bathroom, it may not be that easy for someone who is handicapped. Getting into and out of a bath or a shower may be almost impossible if the proper modifications haven’t been put in place and the toilet can be just as dangerous.
One option you may have is replacing a tub/shower combo with an extra-long shower. If done correctly, these are often beautiful and much more versatile than their previous incarnation. If you would prefer to keep a tub in your building, however, they do make locking tub sides that can open and close for easier entry and exit. Often these come with a seat, which helps to eliminate falls caused by dizzy spells or disorientation.
Another good idea is to install grab bars around the bathing area. You can also put them by the toilet to allow the resident to have something stable to lower themselves with or to help them stand back up. Grab bars in a shower or tub also allow security in case the bottom is slippery. Speaking of slippery, putting down non-skid stickers is a wonderful idea for almost any apartment, as slips can happen to anyone.
One other option you have to make the bathroom more accessible is a handicap toilet. It is about two inches higher than a normal toilet, but it really does make a huge difference to those who may have trouble with their knees. You can check them out in any hardware store that sells regular toilets.
There is a lot you can do in the bathroom to help a disabled resident, these are only a few of the ideas. It is always a good idea to ask people you may know with disabilities what they think is most important in a home to keep them safe.