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As a person living with MS--housing issues may not have even crossed your mind, especially if you are just diagnosed. Wheelchair ramps, shower chairs, and grab bars were the farthest things from your mind.
If you've been living with it for awhile, that may be a different story. Now they, along with many other things, may be everyday necessities. As familiar to you as the toaster on your kitchen counter.
I suppose one of the best pieces of advice we were given early on was, “expect the best, but prepare for the worst”. We probably would have done a few, (well maybe several) things differently if we had actually followed the advice earlier. But eventually we got around to it.
With this in mind, the following is a list of things to consider when planning and preparing for living with a possible disability. Of course you don't need to go out and purchase anything right now or begin making accommodations until you absolutely need to. But it would be a good idea to begin making tentative plans.
When thinking about your future “dream home”, think about things like an all one level ranch home instead of the log cabin with a sleeping loft. Think about extra wide doorways and smooth hardwood or tile floors. Think about lowering the height of light switches and raising electric outlets.
In the closets, lowering hanger bars or installing shelving units that are reachable. In the kitchen, cabinets should be lowered and space below the sinks and under counter cabinets should allow for wheelchair access. A stove with buttons in front instead of on the back panel, as well as a side by side refrigerator - freezer, would make things easier.
In the laundry, a front loading washer and dryer and low shelving or a cabinet for storage would make things accessible here. In the bathroom, space beneath a sink to accommodate a wheelchair, a roll-in or walk-in shower or even one of those new sit down bathtubs, would be things to consider for this room.
Grab bars of course, and mirrors at seat level, would not only be a nice feature, but a necessary one for anyone in a wheelchair. All of these things should go on your wishlist, if you don't have them already. These along with anything else you can think of that would make life easier if you couldn't navigate stairs and needed extra help.
Here are a few resources that may help you with housing:
Barrier Free Home - Find classified ads for Barrier Free Homes across the US and Internationally
HUD's Inventory of Homes for the Elderly and Disabled
Also, the ADA (American's with Disabilities Act) (link opens a new window), has specific guidelines for accessible housing. From the height of your kitchen cabinets, to the width of your bathroom doors, so this is also a good place to do your research.
Are you still working or want to go back to work and have employment issues that you are facing? Click the link to find out more.
Go from Living with MS--Housing Issues back to Living with Multiple Sclerosis.
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Cir & Akrista
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