It wasn’t until two years ago that I realized how easily shattered mobility could be. Out on a family sledding trip my son decided he would fly down the sledding hill as I was walking up. When he hit my leg going full speed on a blow up tube I knew immediately that my leg would never be the same. When all was said and done I had pins and plates holding my ankle together and my fibula was trashed. I would not be walking for three full months.
When it finally hit me was when I got home after surgery and realized that maneuvering around our home on crutches and a walker were near impossible. We have two different areas in our ranch home that have a step up to access the next room. How was I ever going to access the bathroom without crawling? I knew modifications were needed if the next three months were going to be bearable at all. My family and I got to work planning and executing plans to make life smooth for all of us.
Our home is a traditional home. The builder never had to consider that this home would need to be made handicap accessible. As with most homes built today they are made today disabilities and limitations to ones mobility are not considered because that is not what the main stream needs. However as we age or in my situation, are disabled, needs change and our homes need to be modified. The first step for our home was the step up in the garage from where we park the car to where we enter the home. My husband made a simple platform wheelchair ramp. I was able to slowly crutch up, the incline was less steep than most so it was easy for me to use with my crutches.
My next issue was the two step ups in our home. In order to use the bathroom or get to the kitchen area I would have to maneuver around steps or have a wheelchair ramp installed. My girlfriend rented me a scooter that accommodated my bad leg so I could just drag it along instead of using crutches so this was super nice. We just needed to figure out a way to get me and the scooter up the steps in the house. We solved the step up to the bathroom with a wheelchair threshold ramp. It eliminated the small step completely and made using my scooter to get to the bathroom a chinch.
The next bigger obstacle was the main step in the living room. First and foremost our furniture needed to be rearranged because getting around was too tight. Wheelchairs, scooters, and crutches any aide used to help the disabled needs clearance to maneuver. My husband had to construct a wheelchair ramp to accommodate the scooter and me with a very slight incline. He managed to do this using wood that we could reuse later and rigged the step up to accommodate not only me but regular foot traffic.
We realized that for this home to accommodate us in the future, as we aged, we would have to make more permanent changes to the layout of our home. This experience was an eye opener and I am certainly glad that we are able to have a bit of foresight into the needs we will have as we age. This is needs after this experience with my leg. The issues with the steps were only one battle that we faced. Needless to say some bathroom renovations will be taking place and some major flooring renovations. Hardwood floors are going to be put in throughout the place because carpet, we have found, makes mobility difficult using crutches, walkers or a scooter. Lesson learned.