We spend so much of our lives in our homes: we spend time with our friends and family, relax and it’s the place we feel safest in this world. Knowing that our home is the place we should feel most comfortable, it makes sense that we should be able to easily navigate and get around our home without too much trouble.
For those who have limited movements or use a wheelchair to get around, there could be small constraints that make navigating their home really difficult. If you use a wheelchair to get around, you might need to reconfigure your home to make it easier to navigate. During this process, you may also need to purchase some new furniture to make your home more accessible.
Here are a few things to consider when it comes to choosing furniture that is accessible for your needs if you are on a wheelchair.
Organize Before You Buy Any New Furniture
It’s recommended that before you purchase new furniture, you try your best to organize your home. De-clutter your home by putting away those things that you do not need. If you have a lot of stuff laying around the house, especially things that aren’t put away into closets it can make navigation in a wheelchair difficult.
If needed, get the right storage solutions for your house so that you are able to organize things more efficiently. The idea is that you should have a clear passage that is more than your wheelchair width.
For someone who doesn’t have any mobility issues, some items may not seem like a big deal. But the same unused piece of furniture becomes a much bigger deal when it makes areas of your house inaccessible. The goal is to make sure that you are able to reach all the parts of your house that you need to while you’re in a wheelchair.
Sell or Donate Old Furniture
If you have furniture you can no longer use because it isn’t accessible for you then it’s important you sell or donate it before any new furniture arrives.
You may need help removing it from your home, and there are moving companies who can help you arrange this. You can even consider hiring trusted helpers from the community. Make sure you do a thorough assessment of what is going to work for you and what won’t before you get rid of anything.
Things to Consider While Selecting Furniture for Wheelchair Users
All pieces of furniture for wheelchair users present in the market come with specific functioning. All tables, desks, or chairs you get must move from room to room and have great adjustable heights functionality. Also, you must get furniture that is compatible enough with standing machines. Many furniture pieces come with physical therapy features that offer leg elevation and postural support for more comfort.
#2. Sturdiness and Quality
The primary factor is durability; it is one of the primary considerations you must keep in mind while purchasing furniture for wheelchair users. Go for furniture that is made up of high-quality material and offers excellent durability. Since we get many beds, desks, or chairs specially designed to last for a longer time, senior living furniture needs to last long. High quality gives more comfort and reduces the risk of any injuries or muscular aches.
#3. Furniture With ADA Compliance
While you choose furniture for wheelchair people, it is essential to go for furniture complied with ADA, and it is American Disabilities Act. It is a civil rights law that upholds the principle that you cannot discriminate against people with disabilities in any form or manner.
However, every piece of furniture can not be legally ADA compliant, but you should make sure that it should at least meet the compliance standards in terms of space, usability, and application. Here are few considerations that you must check to ensure the furniture you buy is ADA Complied.
- Make sure you get tables, desks, or chairs that accommodate wheelchair users and come with a feature of adjustable height. Adjustable height is essential for a wheelchair user so that the user can adjust the size when necessary.
- You must install windows or cupboards that wheelchair users efficiently use.
- Install grab bars at necessary locations for more comfort for wheelchair users.
- Make your home free from tripping hazards.
- Get all furniture for wheelchair users on one floor instead of keeping the accessible furniture to other floors.
#4. Easy To Clean
In a house, when you have a wheelchair user who needs special care, you ensure you get the fabric of furniture durable and has a feature of easy to clean. The main motive is to bring high-quality upholstery and find material that gives more as much comfort as possible to the user while also easy to clean.
Ensure you go for Vinyl fabric, and it is a top choice of wheelchair user’s upholstery as it is durable, easy to wash, and waterproof with easy to disinfect. You will find many customization options in Vinyl.
#6. Crypton Material
It is a great textile fabric, the most popular fabric for wheelchair user’s furniture because it is waterproof, odor-resistant, and stain-resistant.
#7. Comfort and Support
The main thing that you must check while you buy furniture for wheelchair users is comfort and support. For example, you must get tables and desks with round edges instead of sharp edges, avoiding cuts and other injuries. Go for chairs with great cushioning so that a user feels more comfortable in the long period of sitting. Also, get a chair that has armrests and great postural support.
All the above-stated factors are essential to keep in mind, ensure that apart from physical comfort, go for style and design of the furniture so that wheelchair users do not feel awkward.
Flooring and Area Rugs
When using a wheelchair, or any other mobility assistive device, having the right flooring is crucial to making sure you can get around easily.
Many people who have hardwood floors put area rugs around their home to protect the floor and prevent furniture from moving around.
But, area rugs do pose a problem to those using a wheelchair, though. Depending on how thick the area rug is, it can make it difficult to move the wheelchair over the edge. Additionally, if the edge is curled up even a little bit it can get caught under the wheels and cause an issue for the wheelchair user.
If you must have them, consider getting area rugs suitable for wheelchair users.
All of the flooring in your home should allow for free movement without any barriers or obstacles, and area rugs can get in the way of you moving freely throughout your house. You can, additionally, use a non-skid rug liner that will prevent the area rug from moving or the corners from curling up.
Since many wheelchair users tend to get ready or dress on their bed’s sides, it is essential to pay extra attention to the furniture that you have at your bedside. A bed stool can help a wheelchair user get in and out of bed easily.
You must keep extra space on the sides of the bed, with a minimum of 36″ access on each side. Also, keep a 5-6″ turning radius for easy accessibility of the wheelchair.
When it is about a bedroom’s closets, you need to do some modifications keeping in mind the accessibility of wheelchair users. Make sure you have lowered rod hangers or install pull-down rods.
If you have difficulty getting in and out of bed, an adjustable bed might be the very best option for you as it can help you maintain independence in your home.
An adjustable bed allows you to get the exact position you want for sleeping, reading in bed and even can help elevate you to help you get in and out of bed without falling. It is also critical to make sure that the bed height is set correctly, according to your needs.
An essential consideration in the bedroom is the size and height of mattresses. The standard height of a wheelchair is 19-20 inches above the floor level. Therefore, you must get a mattress above 20-inches so that the user can easily climb on the bed surface. Undoubtedly, a pillow or softer mattress will offer more height to the mattresses to allow them to look taller than usual mattresses.
There are mattresses you can purchase that allow for each side to adjust how they want with individual controls if you need that for your home.
You will also want to make sure the bed frame you select for your bed allows for enough clearance between the bed and other furniture, or the wall, that you can comfortably get in and out of your wheelchair.
Kitchen Set Up
The kitchen is one of the most used spaces in your house, but it can also be a dangerous place when you’re in a wheelchair and can’t access everything. There are four main kitchen modifications that you can do to make it more accessible for wheelchair users.
Change the Hardware on Your Cabinets
Instead of having knobs on the doors and drawers in your kitchen, replace them with handles so that they are much more accessible and easy to open.
Install Adaptable Cabinetry
You can change out the cabinets in your kitchen so that you can easily access items you might need that are too high to reach on your own. This can include cabinets where the shelves slide out or even ones that slide down.
Change the Doors
If you can change the doors on the cupboards, this can be helpful for accessibility. Installing swing doors means you can access the doors without worrying about trying to maneuver around an open door with a wheelchair. A fully open cabinet door with a wheelchair leaves little, if any room, in most kitchens. Swing doors gives you the ability to easily move around the kitchen and access items in your cabinets without difficulty.
Get Adaptable Appliances and Cutlery (if needed)
Depending on the extent of your ability, you might need adaptable appliances and cutlery. If you have the budget, please consider getting appliances like ADA compliant dishwasher, microwave and fridge. Similarly, if you need adaptable cutlery, you can get lightweight cookware and knives and forks suitable for the elderly.
You may also read about: How to Make a Home More Wheelchair Accessible
Dining Table and Chairs
Here are a few tips that you must consider while choosing a dining table when you have few options due to less mobility.
# Check for the Right Type of Legs and Bases
It is essential to get a dining table that does not have cross legs, as it does not allow a wheelchair to enter under the table. Ensure you get a dining table that has four sturdy legs for easy accessibility.
# Go for High Strength Table
As sometimes wheelchair users use the table to lean on, strength is crucial to check when you buy a dining table. Get a table that has strong and highly sturdy legs.
#Go for Suitable Material
A glass-top dining table is not suitable for people with less mobility. Also, a sharp-edged table is not perfect for a wheelchair-friendly home. It is a wise decision to get a dining table with either a marble top or hardwood top. These are sturdy materials that your loved ones can use to lean against as well.
Most dining tables can easily be updated to become accessible to a wheelchair user, simply by removing a chair so that the wheelchair can be pulled right up to the table.
If you are a senior and a temporary wheelchair user, please consider getting dining chairs for the elderly. They will make things easier for you when you are off the wheelchair.
Living/Family Room Furniture
Outside of the kitchen, our living rooms are probably where we spend most of our time: it’s where we watch movies, chat with our family, read our favorite books and more.
We may have our favorite chair, that we’ve had for years, but is it easy to get in and out of for you now?
You can purchase furniture that is higher off the ground so that it’s easier for you to move in and out of which ultimately makes it better for you to move around your home. Additionally, you could even purchase a recliner chair that lifts you almost to a standing position to help with mobility and support.
If you want to get a coffee table for your living room, it is essential to select one that is the correct height and dimensions to allow you to go around it easily. Here are some examples of good coffee tables for wheelchair users.
# Sauder North Avenue Coffee Table
This coffee table is excellent if you want to make your home wheelchair-friendly; it is durable and comes with a black metal frame. The main feature of this table is its highly finished corners, which avoid injuries to users. Another best part of the table is its storage space, which fulfills the need for a coffee table for wheelchair users and an excellent option to store a few things in your home. It has a significant height of 16.54 inches, reasonably sufficient for wheelchair users.
Using the bathroom can be especially scary when you have mobility issues, but everyone needs to be able to bathe and use the bathroom on a regular basis. There are many devices you can purchase to make using the bathroom easier when you have mobility issues or need a wheelchair to get around.
A toilet riser is a device that can be installed on any toilet. It adds height to the toilet seat so that you don’t have to sit down as far when you have mobility issues. Additionally, if you don’t have to stand up as far it can go a long way to making sure you can maintain stability when using the toilet. If you are going to be using the wheelchair long term, you can consider getting yourself a tall toilet, which is a more permanent fixture.
A shower chair is put in a regular bathtub, and it just provides a place for you to sit down while using the shower. If you need more help, a shower transfer bench helps with getting in and out of the shower a part of it sits outside the tub and allows you to slide along it without trying to stand up too quickly. A good thing about these assistive devices is that they can easily be removed for anyone in your family who doesn’t need them.
If you have to get up in the middle of night, half asleep, having the right night light can make a big difference and prevent you from falling and hurting yourself. You can replace the current lighting you have with LED bulbs or you can add additional lighting to make the space brighter.
A detachable hand held shower head can go a long way when it comes to bathing. This means you can wash as you need to, and it can also make using the shower chair easier when you can control the water.
You may also read about: How to Bathe an Elderly Person in Bed
Choosing Furniture for a Wheelchair Home – Parting Words
When it comes to furniture in your home when you’re in a wheelchair, you want everything to have a function and help to make your home easier to navigate. Well thought pieces of furniture like the correct recliners and coffee tables can make your home look professionally decorated and at the same time, wheelchair friendly.
With some easy updates to your home, you can make it work for you and your needs. You may need to do some actual renovations – like in your kitchen to make cabinets more accessible – but there are options for making your home accessible without them.
Your home is your space, with your family, to relax and feel as comfortable in. You shouldn’t struggle to navigate around your own house on a daily basis because of mobility issues. A few changes and updates, de-cluttering your home, and purchasing some new furniture and you won’t have to struggle anymore. Chat with your family to see how they can help you make your home right for you!