Home Lifestyle Tools & Adaptations For Disability Independence At Home

Tools & Adaptations For Disability Independence At Home

by InvisiblyMe
A photo of a woman in a wheelchair in her kitchen cutting vegetables and fruits. Underneath is the post title: Tools and adaptations for disability independence at home.

Disability, chronic illness, fatigue & pain can all make home life more challenging. Where independence is possible, there are small changes and additions that can be considered to maximise independence and make managing the day-to-day a little easier. This collaborative post takes a look at just a handful of possible tools and home adaptations.

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Independence At Home With Disability

Finding ways to make it easier for disabled people to maintain their independence is so important and investing in the right equipment and home adaptations is one of the best ways to do that. There are a lot of people out there that would be more capable of living independently, but their home is not set up in the most practical way and they don’t have the necessary equipment. As a result, they may struggle with daily activities or have to rely more on others for help with certain tasks. While this obviously isn’t possible for everyone, the good news is that some simple changes can still help many people living with disabilities to regain or retain their independence.

These are some of the best home adaptations, tools and equipment if you or a loved one are living with a disability. 

Ramps 

Ramps are one of the most basic home adaptations that wheelchair users often need. Wider doors and wheelchair accessibility is something that you should look out for if you are house hunting with a disability, but if you can’t find a home that meets your accessibility needs adequately or want to stay in your current property, installing permanent or temporary ramps could make a considerable difference. Without them, a person that needs a wheelchair might be unable to leave the house without assistance from somebody else, which makes it impossible for them to live an independent lifestyle. 

Electric Wheelchairs

For people that use wheelchairs, traveling long distances can be difficult but navigating smaller areas at home could likewise be troublesome, so you might be more reliant on someone else being there to push the chair or get you around fiddly tight spaces. However, powered wheelchairs can help to overcome these issues somewhat, reducing the physical effort required so that short or long distances are more doable, while hopefully also making getting around the home less frustrating. The lower impact on the arms also makes them better suited to people with mobility issues in the upper body.

Stairlifts

Getting up and down the stairs unaided can make easier for disabled individuals to move around their home and carry out daily tasks. In some cases, you may wish to consider moving into a single-floor property, but installing a stairlift is also a great option. As long as somebody is able to move from their wheelchair into the stairlift on their own, they can move more freely around the home without relying on somebody else. 

A photo of a staircase against a white wall. The stairs are plain and modern, with nothing underneath them. A beige stairlift is attached with a rail.

Lowered Kitchen Tops 

The kitchens in standard homes are not typically built with wheelchair users in mind and they are too high for most to comfortably use. This means that wheelchair users often have to rely on somebody else to help them with food preparation or risk accidents when reaching up, which has a big impact on their independence. However, this problem can be solved by lowering the kitchen countertops so they are at the ideal height for use by somebody in a wheelchair. It’s a bigger and more costly home adaptation to take on, but it could make a considerable difference and it’s always worth checking whether you’re eligible for any financial assistance for such accessibility changes. Being able to prepare your own food is something that most people take for granted. However, for somebody that uses a wheelchair, it can be big challenge that might be made easier with some home modifications. 

Organisation Solutions

While Insta-perfect organisation may be unrealistic, small changes can help to refresh your home and make things more practical. There are lots of products on the market these days to help maximise your space and get organised, from simple boxes and plastic drawer towers, to wall storage and shelf extenders for cupboards.

Keeping your home organised, tidy and clutter-free can help us feel calmer mentally, but it can also help in practical terms. There should be a little less frustration and less to do when everything has a place, and the items most often used should be easy to get to. There should be less safety issues with things where you can easily reach them. Floorspace will be maximised to get around easily, especially if you use a walker or wheelchair. Furthermore, less clutter and no trip hazards such as loose cables will be that much safer for those with visual impairments.

Grab Rails & Shower Chairs

Grab rails the bathrooms and around the bath so you can get in/out can help those with disabilities and conditions like arthritis that makes manoeuvring in such ways difficult. Having rails won’t just make things more manageable, they’ll make bathroom trips safer. This is also a good idea for the elderly or anyone that’s vulnerable, prone to slips and trips, or finds themselves feeling unsteady. A small slip or bump might not be noticed by some, while it could mean a large bruise, broken bone or worse for others. Adding a little extra security can be small but beneficial, without having to make major changes to your home.

When it comes to showers, a simple shower seat can make the experience more doable and enjoyable, especially if you can’t stand for long, have POTS, suffer with fatigue, and so on. Non-slip mats in the shower and/or bath are also worth considering.

Go Light & Cordless With Housekeeping

Housekeeping can be exhausting and impractical, especially if you’re lugging around large buckets of water for mopping floors or heavy, clunky vacuum cleaners up the stairs. It means some people are more reliant on others to help with certain parts of cleaning the home, but more ergonomic tools may help in regaining a bit of independence here. It might be worth considering investing in alternatives to the traditional mop & bucket, like those with a spray included on the handle, doing away with needing a bucket. Cordless vacuum cleaners that are lightweight are also much easier to move around your home, reducing the risk of accidents on stairs.

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When you live with a disability, or any chronic condition for that matter, there are a lot of daily tasks that you may find difficult. Both minor and major home modifications for accessibility are available for safer & more manageable day to day living. It’s not feasible for everyone, but many people might be able to enhance their independence with adaptations and tools like those listed here by making day-to-day life that bit easier to manage.

A black scroll divider.

These are more for physical, bodily conditions, though of course there are other tools and pieces of equipment for those with visual and auditory conditions. There are, of course, lots of other tools and products for those with auditory or visual conditions that are worth considering, from smart speaker assistants and talking microwaves (as one reader has helpfully commented below), to tactile markers and labels.

Do you use any tools or adaptions to make home life more manageable?

[ This is a collaborative post ]

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14 comments

Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet March 23, 2021 - 5:19 pm

Kudos for this post. Awareness of the needs of disabled people to live independently is vitally important! <3

Have a great day! 🙂

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Stacey Chapman March 23, 2021 - 5:38 pm

My Dyson is a lifesaver!!! Could never clean my home without it!

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johnrieber March 23, 2021 - 6:22 pm

Well done, such useful information for those seeking it!

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capost2k March 23, 2021 - 6:38 pm

I have been blessed with the opportunity to install several of these helps in neighbors’ houses, one with MS and another near 85 who is ready to go Home.

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Anne Fraser @theplatinumline.blog March 23, 2021 - 6:47 pm

My mother had a stairlift installed after she lost her sight and it helped her cope with an open plan staircase. She also bought a talking microwave which was a lifesaver,

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Sandee March 23, 2021 - 8:14 pm

This goes for folks as they age too. I watched my parents struggle to do things back in the day. Many of these same things helped them. Excellent post.

Have a fabulous day, Caz. ♥

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Rachael Tomlinson March 23, 2021 - 9:38 pm

I have some amazing tools, my latest is a long handled scrubber for the wetroom floor. I have recently sent information for PIP and there was two pages of photos of what I need to live xx

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Despite Pain March 24, 2021 - 10:13 am

Great post, Caz. When you live with pain or a disability, it is really essential to make the most of all the equipment and appliances which can help. I have several in the house. A grab rail at my bed to help me turn and get in and out has proved invaluable over the last few years. But I’ve just got a new bed and it doesn’t fit so I’m on the lookout for something more suitable. I also I have a shower stool and can’t stress what a difference that has made. I love hot water on my back, but I really can’t stand for long. With the stool, I end up sitting in the shower until I go a bit wrinkly. Lol, I’m probably already a bit too wrinkly!

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Lauren March 24, 2021 - 12:09 pm

This is a really helpful post that you have shared and increasing awareness. Thank you for sharing about the tools and adaptations.
Lauren

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James Viscosi March 25, 2021 - 3:07 pm

In the immediate aftermath of The Event, when I was a bit unsteady on my feet after being in ICU for a couple of weeks, my contractor cousin installed a grab bar in our shower, which I made good use of for a while. Other than that, we have made some accommodations for our elderly pets: A ramp for Tucker the Vizsla so he could get up into our bed, and then, when Dennis the Vizsla got old and couldn’t jump into bed either, he refused to use the ramp, so we removed the legs from the bed for him. So I guess we could say the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) could also be called the Animals with Disabilities Act here around our house …

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The Oceanside Animals March 25, 2021 - 3:38 pm

Lulu: “I just sleep underneath the humans’ bed. No ramp for me!”

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chronicmom March 25, 2021 - 6:34 pm

Cordless vacuums is a great idea, I didn’t even think of that. Cords can get in the way of everything!

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Christy B March 25, 2021 - 7:03 pm

Making the home safer is so important, especially right now while so much more time is spent there! Wonderfully written, and very educational.

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Janet B. Pearson March 28, 2021 - 11:43 pm

These are great ideas! Thank you for putting it together.

Reply

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