Improving the Mobility and Accessibility in Your Home

Many people face challenges concerning mobility and accessibility in their own homes. For example, the design of your door can affect your ability to stay mobile.

For example, wheelchair users have clearly designed requirements. In addition to this, as you age, you may need a little more help to ensure that you stay mobile in your own home. As the UK population ages, the importance of improving the accessibility and mobility in homes across the UK becomes more pressing. Presently, 18 per cent of the population in the UK is 65 years old or older. By 2046, this percentage increases to 25 per cent.

Rethinking and remodelling homes to handle the changing requirements of the elderly will become more important as we age and our family and friends age.

Improving the Accessibility of the Entrance Door

The design of your entrance door can help those who have limited mobility lead a more independent lifestyle. There are several things that should go into a proper door design to improve accessibility and mobility. These changes help individuals maintain independence and reduce the risk of injury.

According to the UK government, approximately one third of those aged 65 and older and one half of those aged 80 and over experience at least one fall each year, which causes them pain, distress, injury or a loss in their confidence levels.

Adding a hand rail or a ramp can improve accessibility and reduce the risk of falls.

Reliability and ease of use are key. Composite doors require less maintenance and do not twist or warp the way timber doors do. Changing out your wooden doors to PVC-U or composite doors decrease the amount of maintenance needed.

The most important thing to consider is the threshold of a door. Installing a low threshold reduces the risk of falls. For a standard door, the threshold (the bottom piece of the door frame that you step over) is 70mm. This height helps to seal your door and improve thermal efficiency. However, at 70mm, those with limited mobility can be challenged. Furthermore, it is very difficult for a wheelchair user to navigate over a 70mm threshold. Conversely, a low threshold (12mm high) can improve accessibility and mobility.

Wheelchair Access Doors

If you are in a wheelchair, there are several things to consider, including minimum effective clear opening widths (ECW). The ideal ECW for wheelchair access doors is 900mm. However, this may not be possible in older properties.

There are other considerations. For example, a space of 1500mm by 1500mm is needed for a standard wheelchair around 360 degrees. You must have a clear and clutter0=-free area inside your home so the wheelchair can be turned around.

To ensure the wheelchair user can pass through the door unhindered, the door should open more than 90 degrees. In order to accomplish this, there should be at least 300 mm between the opening edge of the door and the wall.

Improve Accessibility by Modifying Windows

Good window design can improve the quality of life, independence and mobility of older people and those with restricted mobility.

One way to do this is to lower the height of the windows. The window handle may also need to be changed to make it easier to grip and open and close the windows.

As a general rule, window sills should be no more than 900 mm to 1200 mm from the floor. This provides wheelchair users with a view outdoors. If the window is any higher, the wheelchair user may not be able to see outside of the window.

There are several opening and closing mechanisms available for windows, including manual window winders along with powered systems. Powered systems open and close the windows automatically, which is perfect if the window is out of reach or the user does not have the dexterity needed to operate a standard window.

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