It’s no wonder they say that moving is one of the most stressful life events people experience. When dealing with chronic illness or disability, this process can become more complex and beyond exhausting, but it’s a doable challenge.
How can house hunting itself be made a little more doable? Thanks to technology, more can be done online as you search through houses and make comparisons, check out specifications, look at photographs and explore maps, allowing you to be more selective when it comes to eventually viewing properties in person. Pace your activities. Take regular time out and prioritise self-care. Expect that the process is likely to encounter a few hiccups. Make lists to aid your memory & to help keep you on top of things, from the things you’re looking for in a house to the things you need to do and pack. Ask for help if/when you need it.
With house hunting, your degree of flexibility will of course vary depending on budget and situation, such as whether you’re buying a property, privately renting a flat or renting a council house. For those purchasing a property, it’s a considerable investment. There’s a lot to consider, and the picture can become a little more complex when factoring in illness and disability. Considering only around 7% of the housing stock in the UK provides the bare bones of accessibility, it’s reasonable to anticipate that some adaptations may be required. A house needs to be manageable, practical and accessible. This applies to all sorts of conditions and symptoms, from wheelchair users to those with autoimmune disorders, chronic pain or chronic fatigue. It’s also worth anticipating your future needs and how those may change when deciding whether a house is a long term home.
Here are a few factors to keep in mind when house hunting –
1. Wheelchair Friend or Foe
This is obviously a considerable factor in any decision if you use a wheelchair. Is there adequate doorway accessibility with wider doorways, and preferably space in the entrance hall or foyer for manoeuvring a wheelchair? Is the flooring accommodating, such as with vinyl, hardwood or laminate, or is it obstructive to make moving difficult? Can ramps be easily added to front and back door steps?
2. Stairway to Heaven or To Hell
Age, disability, arthritis, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are just a few things that can make stairs a challenge to varying degrees, from downright impossible to a painful, tiring inconvenience. You don’t have to miss out on a second storey because the stairs are a challenge. These days, most properties can be adapted with a stairlift, with options for both straight and curved staircases. Thanks to advances in technology, motors are quieter and more powerful, with smooth mechanics and sleeker designs with slimmer rails. There’s excellent functionality to make them very user-friendly and one of the most popular providers, Handicare Stairlifts UK, have unique 3D technology to ensure the stairlift is the perfect fit for your stairs, whether straight or curved. There’s ample guidance and advice available to help you with your decision and to make sure you’re totally happy with the end result. There are different styles to suit different budgets, and stairlifts prices in the UK will vary depending on the specification of the stairlift and the format of the stairs. Stairlifts can be life-changing additions, helping you or your loved one stay safe and independent in your/their own home.
3. Bathing Facilities
Does the property have whichever option, bath and/or shower, that you find easiest? Is there a bathroom at ground level for ease of use? Baths and showers can be made a little more practical and safer with small adjustments, like anti-slip mats, grab rails and shower chairs.
4. Bacteria & Pollution
This is worth anyone checking out, especially if you have allergies or are immunocompromised. Are there any signs of water damage or mould around skirting boards, walls or ceilings? Is the property near a road, and will there be much pollution when you open your windows?
5. Kitchen Fittings
Are the heights of worktops & cupboards suitable, especially if you use a wheelchair? If not, do you have the budget for a refit? Dishwashers, ovens and stovetops, and spaces for washing machines and tumble dryers are all modern conveniences that used to be luxuries, but are now very helpful for those with health struggles and fatigue, allowing day to day things to be a little more convenient.
6. Storage Space
Anyone apart from the incredibly minimalistic will require storage space, but if you have a lot of belongings, especially factoring in any mobility aids and medical products, they’ll need a place to go that’s safe to reach and easily accessible. We’re short on storage space in our house and it’s not ideal having things stored in inconvenient places like on top of wardrobes where it’s dangerous to reach down. If the property is compact, what ways can more storage be realistically added?
7. Wonder Walls
If you need grab rails fitted to the likes of bathroom walls, are the walls strong enough to tolerate them? I wouldn’t have trusted the bathroom wall to manage a toothbrush holder in our last house, let alone the partial weight of a human clinging to a rail.
8. Impact of Upkeep
Many people with chronic illness and/or disability find fatigue to be a significant challenge. It’s worth factoring in the size of the property, and the resulting maintenance and upkeep that would be involved. This is especially important if you don’t anticipate having help with these things, from cleaning and vacuuming, to gardening and mowing the lawn.
9. Advice & Financial Help
Are you eligible for help with costs to adapt the property? An occupational therapist can help assess your needs and make recommendations. In the UK, residents with disabilities may be able to apply for financial support, such as with a Disabilities Facilities Grant. If you’re not sure what help you may be able to get, speak to your medical specialists, local community organisations and local council. If you’re thinking of a stairlift, speak to the provider who will be happy to assist in discussing your options and to help find what’s best suited to your budget.
10. Location, Location, Location
Is there easy parking at the property or access to public transport? Is it near a GP practice or hospital? Does the local area seem comfortable, safe and low stress? Take some time checking it out, Google search for information, take a walk on Google Maps and check nearby amenities, and ask for opinions online forums.
No property will tick every box, but it’s worth listing what you’re looking for in a house/flat and the local area, then prioritising the most important aspects. What is a ‘must have’? What can be adapted to suit your needs after purchasing, like putting up grab rails, the addition of ramps, or the installation of a stairlift? If you’re not in a position to house hunt, could any of these alterations and adjustments be applied to your current property?
[ This is a sponsored post written by myself & all opinions are my own. ]