Angie's LIST Guide to
Handicap Equipment

Handicap equipment can help increase independence for disabled or elderly people, improving their mobility, safety and quality of life. You can find this equipment and support for its use from home health care stores, as well as disability organizations.


wheelchairs, handicap equipment
A variety of handicap equipment is available to aid people who need assistance with everyday tasks. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Handicap access in the bathroom

For people with disabilities, the bathroom is an area fraught with wet and slick surfaces where safety should be a major concern. Certain supplies can help to ease these concerns, making the process of using the toilet easier and preventing slips in the shower.

People can use a grab bar to help themselves stand up and to steady themselves as they sit down. It's one of the most basic and helpful kinds of supplies, it's affordable and you can install it easily.

A raised toilet seat can reduce the amount of movement required of to sit down and stand up. For people who have trouble getting to the bathroom, you can purchase a portable toilet or commode and place it next to the bed.

The shower can pose another major area of concern for persons with disabilities. You can make some design changes or add equipment to your shower to minimize accidents. By adding a shower seat or shower wheelchair, a person to sit down while showering. You can install grab bars near the shower or in the stall to help with accessibility.

You should remove shower curbs to make sure that the shower is accessible because they can be difficult to step over and don't let you bring a specialized wheelchair into the shower. Creating a wider shower with accessible taps can be helpful, allowing a person to turn the water on and off without having to reach.

A wider shower can make it easier for people to enter and provide room for a shower bench or a shower wheelchair. The extra room also accommodates someone to help a disabled person with showering.

Some improvements you can tackle yourself, but some may necessitate hiring a contractor, especially if you're looking to remodel your bathroom completely for best accessibility.

Handicap access in the kitchen

Many kinds of handicap equipment are available to help make daily life easier in the kitchen as well. Preparing and eating a meal can be difficult for some, and adaptive cooking tools can help a person gain independence in the kitchen.

One-handed cutting boards feature spikes to hold the food in place for slicing. Rolling knives can help make cutting easier. Special cutting boards and spreading plates are curved so that the food won't slide off.

Adaptive utensils can make eating easier. These utensils have a special handle or are strapped on. Along with knives, spoons and forks, spatulas and other cooking utensils feature these handles as well.

Weighted utensils are especially helpful for individuals with muscle tremors and help reduce movement. Cups with spouts can help to reduce spills that occur while drinking. Bibs help prevent stained clothing for people who have trouble eating.

Tools to help getting dressed

Getting dressed can prove difficult as well. Luckily, special tools are available to empower persons with disabilities.

A reacher or grabber can retrieve items from drawers or a closet and help people put on their shoes. Zipper pulls and button-hook tools can help fasten clothes. Dressing aid sticks have an S-shaped hook on one end and a regular hook on the other for putting on and removing different types of clothing. Sock aids and shoe horns can help people with dressing their feet.

Some clothing is specially designed for persons with disabilities. These clothes make use of elastic and typically use large fasteners, making it easier for someone with arthritis or a similar condition to fasten clothes.

Handicap mobility equipment

Just because people may have difficulty walking doesn't mean they have to surrender their independence. Motorized wheelchairs and scooters provide the means to get around the house, the neighborhood or town. Medicare, Medicaid or your insurance will pay for this equipment, so check with your retailer or insurance agent.

Specially equipped vans can raise a wheelchair into a passenger or right into the driver's seat, where someone with poor or no leg function can accelerate and brake the vehicle by special hand levers

Handicap equipment in the home

You can make several other adjustments to your home to accommodate people with disabilities.

For the hearing impaired, special phones translate speech into text so that you can see what loved ones are saying. You can also equip lights to flash when the doorbell or phone rings.

Lift chairs look like regular recliners, but they lift forward to boost someone to a standing position.

To accommodate wheelchairs in the home, you may need to add ramps and motorized stair lifts to get wheelchair-bound residents from one level to the other.

You may even need to undertake a full-scale renovation project to widen doorways, remove rugs and lower countertops in the home.


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