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How to Find That Perfect Accessible Home
Submitted by Patrick Young
June 18, 2018
According to a 2015 report by The Atlantic, only 1 percent of rental housing is designed to accommodate people with disabilities. For those who can afford it, the best solution is to buy a house that they can adapt into an accessible home. This process can seem complicated and frustrating, so we have put together a basic guide to get you started. The tips below have been designed with the needs of a person with Parkinson’s in mind, but the advice can be adapted to anyone who suffers from a disability that impacts their mobility and independence.
Searching for an Accessible Home
Start your search online to see the accessible homes available in your area and find out how they are priced. According to Redfin, the median listing price for an accessible home in Santa Barbara, California, is $1.35 million. While this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find anything for less, it can give you an idea of where your finances should be.
Furthermore, it is important to understand that “accessible” means different things to different people. Once you have identified your key needs from the house, it will be easier to narrow down your search. Working with a real estate agent is a good idea, as they have access to more detailed information and will be able to filter homes by certain criteria more easily than you.
What to Look for in a Home
Even when you are talking about the same illness, everyone will need different things. In the case of Parkinson’s, your age, the stage you are currently at, and what type of Parkinson's you have are all important considerations.
That said, key features that would make a home accessible to most people include:
A one-floor plan with no stairs.
Wide doorways and open spaces.
Plenty of storage room to avoid clutter.
Non-slippery floors with some cushioning in case of a fall.
Well-lit rooms (a lighting system that is controlled by a touch or sound would be ideal).
No raised thresholds between rooms.
Well-maintained landscaping with no broken or cracked pathways.
Accessible doors and door handles.
Home Improvement Considerations
It is important to consider which accessibility needs can be fulfilled with some basic home improvement, and which ones should be built into the layout itself. This will, of course, depend on your budget and access to DIY help from friends and family. But as a general rule, there are certain features that you would ideally need to be present before you buy.
For example, according to a 2017 study, the two biggest home accessibility issues faced by someone with Parkinson’s are a lack of grab bars in toilets and wall-mounted cupboards and shelves placed too high. While both are potentially fixable, the first is far easier to install in any given home than the second.
Installing a grab bar costs around $235, but most of this is labor and can be easily saved if you know someone who can do the installation. On the other hand, simply installing new cupboards costs on average $3,500 to $5,000, and that’s not including the cost of removing existing ones. Therefore, easy-access storage should be one of your main priorities when looking for an accessible home.
Finding an accessible home can seem like a challenge. However, there are plenty of them on the market and plenty more that aren’t listed as accessible but could easily become so with a few minor improvements. The one thing to keep in mind is to find somewhere that makes you feel safe and comfortable and can accommodate your illness as it changes and evolves.
This article is being provided for informational purposes only to those with an ongoing interest in Parkinson's Disease. This particular article is not sponsored or specifically endorsed by the PASB.