Living a new life in a wheelchair presents some major challenges. Cooking, driving a vehicle, doing laundry, cleaning the house, and even taking a bath has become much harder to do. A top loading washer and dryer is almost impossible to know if all the clothes are removed. Making some changes in household appliances can bring much needed relief and help for those confined to a wheelchair.
Front Loading Washer and Dryer
Replacing the old top loading set with front loaders will make doing laundry much easier. Loading the machines are easier and getting all the clothes out a lot more comfortable. Matching the washer/dryer set with a lowered folding table makes folding laundry a breeze. Anyone using a wheelchair will finally be able to be more independent in the laundry room. In the near future, more help can possibly come from robots that can wash the laundry and fold the clothes.
Keeping the house clean is another problem while being in a wheelchair. Vacuuming the floor presents a challenge while pushing a cleaner around. The cord gets in the way and the wheelchair doesn’t fit well between some pieces of furniture. A robotic vacuum cleaner is a great help here. They have been on the market for many years and run on battery power. They have sensors to avoid objects and are designed to go back to the charging unit automatically when their battery power runs low.
Bathrooms can be extremely tough on those confined to a wheelchair. Grab bars should be installed near the toilet and bathtub or shower. There are walk-in tubs available for easy accessibility. If using a shower, it should not have any type of curb and the floor should be slightly sloped towards the drain to keep water from coming out in the rest of the bathroom. The bathroom sink should be lowered so it is in easy reach. Shelving should be installed where items are readily available and easy reaching distance.
The door to the bathroom needs to open outwards so there is more room to maneuver a wheelchair. Using levers on the door instead of knobs makes for an easy to open door. A service dog can also be trained to open doors and pick up dropped items from the floor. The floor should be kept clean of all obstacles, including rugs and mats. These are difficult to roll over and can be a tripping hazard.
Cooking in the Kitchen
Preparing food and cooking presents another problem for those wheelchair bound. The use of a lap desk or kitchen caddy can help when transporting food from the stove to table. It can also be used as a mixing table when preparing food. The use of hot plates on a lowered surface can make reaching the pans easier and reduce the chances of a spill. Food and storage cabinets should be lowered to make items more accessible. This is another area where the floor needs to be kept clear of obstacles.
Redesigning a home for someone using a wheelchair to make their life easier and become more independent will require time, money, and work. For those confined to these chairs, everything that they can do for themselves and be less dependent on others gives them more of their life back. Extended hand claws are clumsy and inefficient to use, resulting in spills, broken jars, and other dropped items. Everything needs to be within easy reach to avoid injuries, such as hot foods spills and cuts from broken glass. In the near future, robotics can play a bigger role in helping those who are confined to a wheelchair.