Making your home safe may not sound sexy, but doing so helps you live happier and longer. It’s one way to get the most out of your senior years. Yes, this sounds dramatic…but it isn’t.
We lose mobility as we age – but it doesn’t have to keep us from where we want to go! The idea is to prevent accidents…and before I go on…it’s crucial to remember this information isn’t age-exclusive. Toddlers and teens benefit just as much as adults.
In this series, we’ll look at specific areas of your home to help you understand how to make them as safe as possible. Keep these tips in mind when you’re looking to remodel. Not only do you increase your home’s safety, you add appeal to your surroundings. In other words…get “two for the price of one!”
Safety Issue #1 – Entering and Leaving Your Home
Let’s starts with your entrance.
Ideally, safe homes have at least one no-step entryway. The problem? Most homes, even ones on flat ground have a least one step to get over. Installing a ramp eliminates this tripping hazard.
Ramps take the “bump” out of doorways and stairs. Threshold, Portable, Lifts and Permanent ramps allow mobility scooters and wheelchairs to glide through the entrance, often without assistance. Even if you’re still on your own two feet, minimizing obstacles (especially small ones that are easy to overlook) helps you keep your independence… and your dignity.
Let’s take a look at the options:
Short rises are dangerous because they’re easily missed. Made with a non-skid surface or solid rubber, threshold ramps provide an easily installed, simple solution. Even if a threshold only rises an inch or two, it feels like a brick wall when your wheelchair or walker has tiny wheels on the front.
Available in different lengths, surfaces and folding configurations, portable ramps ease movement over higher or multiple steps and have the advantage of being mobile. The most popular, inexpensive and sturdy ramps are made from aluminum (but other materials are available).
Where an area is too small or the rise too severe for a ramp to fit (the dividing line is usually a 30” rise or greater) wheelchair lifts are the best fit. They require a permanent concrete pad as a base and should only be installed by a dedicated, experienced installer. Because they are electrical, you’ll need a dedicated power source to run them.
Permanent ramps can be constructed from different materials – like wood, aluminum, steel and concrete.
Wood ramps are visually pleasing but require constant maintenance to prevent rotting, warping and splinters. They can also be slippery when wet, therefore need the addition of a non-slip surface.
Strong and lightweight, Aluminum ramps are maintenance-free. Because they are not permanently attached to the building, they do not require a building permit. They can be easily adjusted if the ground shifts underneath but like wood, however, they do require a non-slip surface.
Steel ramps are heavier and support higher weight capacities than wood or aluminum. Generally less expensive, they rust when not properly maintained and like wood and aluminum, are slippery when wet.
Concrete, the most expensive ramp option available, requires a building permit and specialized installation. Once installed, they’re difficult to adjust or reconfigure, but unlike the others, they can be built with non-slip surfaces. Of all the ramps, they are the strongest and most permanent.
Depending on your budget and needs, shop for the style that best fits your entrance. For more information and companies, see the list below. Most of all, stay safe!!
P.S. Here’s a few helpful links for you to explore. You’ll find some excellent photos showing the above ramps.
Not sure what to do next? Contact us for a consultation, we can help.
* Photo Credit/Location: Mesa Historical Tour 2011, Beth D M Gonzales, Active Forever Scottsdale Store Front