Whether you’ve been thinking about installing a grab bar, or faced with a situation where a loved one can no longer manage one step leading to the front door, the chances are you’ve been looking for the right person to make changes. Will ADA compliant bathroom work? Do you need a ramp? The answer is- maybe. ADA standards were developed to ensure access to the built environment for people with disabilities. In reality, the standards afford 18” wheelchair access, but don’t take into consideration individual characteristics of people using the environment.
Does your handyman know what macular degeneration is or what it’s like to live with diabetes? Most handymen or general contractors are familiar with ADA requirements and can modify your living environment “to code” or follow your directions for custom modifications. The variables such as your goals and values, the nature of your condition, whether it’s temporary or progressive, and the amount of help you have, are not considered.
While occupational therapists do not come wielding a drill and a bag of screws, we are trained to look into what you can do, want to do, and what you need to change in your environment to accomplish your goals. Our typical recommendations vary from adding smart home features to considering contrasting colors, to modifying the way you access your closet and kitchen cabinets. Occupational therapist is a health care professional with knowledge of home modifications and will ensure that proposed changes match your lifestyle. We understand body mechanics, vision and cognitive function, and we know how environment can increase your independence and prevent falls.
Together we can come up with a plan that a handyman or a contractor can follow to create a space you can freely access and enjoy. The current selection of materials ensure that your house will not remind you of a hospital room.
If you are still thinking whether you need home modifications, ask yourself these questions:
· Do I plan to live in this home for the next 10 years?
· Will I be able to return home if I break my leg and not able to bear weight through it for several weeks?
· Do I have to be extra careful reaching into the kitchen cabinets or stepping into the tub?
Consulting an occupational therapist specialized in home modifications means the changes in your home will be designed to meet your unique needs, and help prevent falls, hospital stays, and need for increased assistance. Medicare, as well as private insurance, recognizes the need for professional occupational therapy services for individuals at risk for falls and cover OT home assessment.