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Living with MS--Housing Issues

Modular-Handicap Accessible Home

As a person living with MS--housing issues may not have even crossed your mind yet, especially if you are just newly diagnosed. Wheelchair ramps, shower chairs, and grab bars were the farthest things from your mind and may even cause you stress if you start thinking about them too soon.

If however, you've been living with your diagnosis for awhile, that may be a different story. Now these types of things, along with many other things, may now be everyday necessities. As familiar to you as the toaster on your kitchen counter. 

Future plans

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 out of necessity.

With this in mind, the following is a list of things to consider when planning and preparing for a future 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.

Accessible Dream home requirements


When thinking about your future “dream home”, what kinds of amenities do you think you might need or want? Pull out a notebook or blank doc and start making a list. Think about things like an all on one level ranch home instead of a 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 electrical outlets. 

In the kitchen, cabinets should be lowered and there should be space below the sinks and under counter cabinets to allow for wheelchair access. Cabinets should also have pull out drawers to give ease of access to pots, pans, and dishes. Soft closing drawers would also be a nice touch.

The counters should be low enough to reach from a wheelchair as well. A raised stove with buttons in front instead of on the back panel, and broiler in the oven instead of on the bottom. A side by side refrigerator - freezer, instead of the freezer at the top variety, might make things easier as far as getting to both frozen and fridge items.

A raised dishwasher is also necessary so that you don't need to reach down too far to fill or empty it. A wide enough space for maneuvering with a walker or wheelchair are also a must have. It would be nice to have a pull out cutting board to make meal prep safer.

In the laundry, a front loading washer and dryer that is high enough off the floor to reach by wheelchair. Space to maneuver in and out of the room and low shelving or cabinets for storage. A low table for folding laundry would also make things accessible here.

In the bathroom, space beneath a sink to accommodate a wheelchair, low cabinets for storage, and a roll-in or walk-in shower or even one of those new sit down bathtubs, would be things to consider for this space. A toilet that is slightly raised to accommodate a chair if necessary and to make it easy to reach when sitting down. A bidet would also make self cleaning so much easier. We can't honestly believe how we've lived without one.

Grab bars are a must of course, in the shower and around the toilet, and anywhere else you feel you need them. Extra wide mirrors over the sink and at seat level, would not only be a nice feature, but a necessary one for anyone in a wheelchair. Good lighting would also be great to have.

All of these things should go on your wish list, if you don't have them on there already. These, along with anything else you can think of that would make life easier if you could no longer navigate your inaccessible home with stairs and needed extra help.

Living with MS--Housing issues you may face

  • Accessible Housing
  • wheelchair ramps
  • grab bars
  • accessible kitchen
  • accessible bathroom
  • accessible bedroom
  • accessible doorways (wide enough for wheelchairs)
  • easy to open doors with accessible handles
  • all one floor housing
  • accessible doorways
  • accessible parking
  • an accessible neighborhood with curb cutaways and even walkways

I'm sure there are more items I could add to this list, however, right now I can't think of them. I started a Pinterest Board for our Accessible Dream Home some time ago. You might like visiting it and starting one of your own.

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
  • 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. 

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Cir & Akrista

You are reading original content written by Akrista or Cir L'Bert of Life in Spite of MS. If you enjoyed reading this blog, please consider following us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you there!

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