My father fell down the stairs just a couple of days ago and he broke his pelvis and his right leg. Because of his injuries, the doctors told me that he could be in a wheelchair for at least a few months. He’s 78 years old and hasn’t been in the best of health recently, so it’s been a tough situation. Since he’s going to need a wheelchair, I knew that I had to do something about wheelchair ramps. I didn’t think much about senior home safety before all of this happened, even though I think I should have. I guess we don’t see our parents as being frail until the news hits us square in the face, or in my case, right in the ear while I was in the middle of an important meeting at work.
Right now, I won’t make the same mistake again. I know that I have to seriously think about installing some type of wheelchair ramps in his home. He’s not going to be going up and down the carpeted steps in his house to his bedroom, I know that, so he’ll be sleeping downstairs on the main floor. Still, even though he’s suffered a serious fall and injury, he’s talking about getting outside and doing things. Slow down, dad.
I began to research what I would need to know about wheelchair ramps. I looked into finding out whether Medicare or Medicaid might cover the expense of this type of senior home safety addition, but they don’t. I would need to build one for him.
I gathered a lot of resources that I would use to help build a quality ramp, but I was wondering if there was another alternative. If he was only going to need this for a few months, then did it make sense to install a wheelchair ramp just for that period of time? I researched and found out that there are temporary, impermanent wheelchair ramps that you can buy when you need them. The fold up and are easy to move when done.
However, from what I learned through the past couple of days, even though he may only be in a wheelchair for a few months, the ramps could be a great asset, especially if he needs a walker or has trouble getting up and down steps. I decided to build the wheelchair ramps, in the front and back of his house. Like I said, I won’t make the same mistakes when it comes to senior home safety again.
AARP recommends certain accessories for any ramp. They are:
- Mount guardrails along the side of the ramp. Put them about 18 inches from the ramp floor. This rail will help keep people and wheelchairs safely on the ramp.
- Install edging along the floor of the ramp so no one will slide off. The edging should be 2-inches high.
- Put handrails on both sides of the ramp. Use wood; Metal could be hard to hold in winter. Handrails should extend at least 12 inches beyond the ramp at both ends.
- Build a set of stairs off the top landing of the ramp. This way, friends and relatives can use the stairs if they don’t want to use the ramp.