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Making A House Wheelchair Accessible


I know, I know…..I’ll never get old…that only happens to other people. How many of us remember saying that in our youth. The good news is, if you’re fortunate enough to hang around on this earth long enough you get to enjoy grandchildren, or retirement, or mastering certain subjects or traveling or having many friends around the world, or ?? The bad news is, it takes a lot of years to accomplish these things and those years add up to…older age. It’s a good thing!!

A word of advice…plan ahead !

More and more people are doing their best to stay in their own homes for as long as they can during their “golden” years. It’s cheaper than other options and, let’s face it, it’s HOME. Why wouldn’t we all prefer that option? Knowing this, plan ahead when you can. If you’re fortunate enough to own your own home, your in a perfect position to do some important long term planning. If building an original home, adding on a new portion or remodeling an older section, think “flat and wide”! So many people don’t get out of their conventional mind sets and order standard width doors, contertops with lots of cabinetry under them and think a sunken living room is a great idea. Wrong! By planning ahead, you can save A LOT of money be thinking a few simple thoughts.

Can a wheelchair get through that bathroom door?
What kind of access to the toilet will I have if I have to use a walker?
Is there a flat path from my garage to my front door and can I maneuver through large sections of my house if I was using a wheelchair?
What kind of shower situation would I like if I needed to use a shower chair?

A few simple thoughts like these can lead to great long term planning. Getting a door a few inches wider than normal only costs a few extra bucks up front vs a lot more if you have to rip out an old door frame and install a new, wider one. Appropriate landscaping may be a huge blessing some day if one type allows for easy access around the yard vs another type requiring stepping up or down or around things.

A taller toilet upcharge is a lot cheaper than buying a whole new toilet if you find bending at the hips becomes a serious problem some day. Maybe even a shower replacement with capability of “rolling in” a shower wheelchair if needed may make sense. No problem for an able bodied person to use but a golden upgrade for someone who becomes wheelchair confined. If you plan ahead, and are willing to spend a few extra bucks here and there, you may find you’ve created a living space which will see you through many stages of life without wrecking the bank account later trying to fix things “after the fact”.

Paul Gammie

Manager and Owner of Gammie HomeCare

Gammie HomeCare specializes in Home Medical Equipment needs for clients on the islands of Maui and Kauai in Hawaii. In business on Maui since 1986 and Kauai since 1999.