Design Your Home To Meet Handicap Needs

Injuries, physical disabilities, surgeries and bone density issues can make it difficult to be mobile. They can also make it challenging to get in and out of a home, including the home of a relative or friend. With a few changes, your home can present less of a challenge for people with unique physical needs.

Ensure that banisters outside and inside your home are secure. When you pull on banisters or place weight on them, make sure that they don’t pull away from the ground or wall. This could keep people with physical disabilities safe. It could also help to keep children safe.

Although banisters are often used by people who are injured, aging or disabled, ensuring that your banisters are sturdy isn’t the only step that you can take to create a home that supports people with unique physical needs. Additional ways that you could create a home environment that supports people with physical disabilities include:

Wide walkways – Walkways that are at least 36 inches wide offer added accessibility to your home. Exterior coverings should be high enough to prevent tall people from having to bend over to enter your house without bumping their head or shoulders. Sidewalks should be free of debris, boxes and items that children and adults would have to climb over or maneuver around.

Wheelchair ramp – A wheelchair ramp needs to be sturdy and wide enough to support several hundred pounds. During inclement weather, including hard rains and icy conditions, the ramp should be cleared and kept dry.

Bathroom support rails – People with conditions like sickle cell anemia, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s may need to hold onto a railing to get in and out of the tub or shower. So too might someone who suffered an injury or who is recovering from surgery. Hardware stores sell steel bathroom support rails, but, they must be properly installed. You could hire a professional to install support rails.

Adequate lighting – Motion detector lights outside your home serve multiple purposes, including deterring burglars and preventing falls. The lights can be installed near front and back walkways and along roof corners.

Nonslip surfaces – Keep sidewalks shoveled and salted in the winter. You could also place rubber mats on porches and inside doorways year round to prevent slips and falls after a rain or whenever people get their feet or shoes wet.

Open floor plan – An open floor plan is great at making it easy for parents to keep an eye on young children. An open floor plan also reduces the numbers of doors that people have to push through to go from room to room.

Keyless door entry – Similar to benefits derived from an open floor plan, keyless door entry can take the strain out of fumbling with keys. You can also opt for door handles that operate with levers rather than knobs to reduce the numbers of times people with arthritis and other tissue and muscle issues have to work to open doors.

Level flooring – Uneven flooring can cause people to stumble, trip and fall. Whether floors are carpeted, tiled or hardwood, ensure that they are even or level. Replace areas that have started to curl or bubble.

Security alarms – Install security alarms that not only alert first responders to burglaries but that also alert first responders to falls and accidents on your property.

Cabinets – If needed, lower cabinets so that shorter adults can reach plates, cups and glasses. However, avoid placing frequently used items in bottom cabinets that require adults to bend to the floor, potentially making it hard for aging adults or people recovering from injuries to reach the items.

The National Directory of Home Modification Resources and state agencies list organizations that provide tools that you can add to your home to make it easier for aging parents, injured people and children and adults with physical disabilities to visit or live in your home. Who knows? Modifications that you make today could allow you to remain in your home years from now.

How to Be Productive Working From Home

We all have our own version of the ideal work environment. Some of us require a distraction-free bubble to be productive, whereas others prefer to work in a bustling cafe.

There are many factors that contribute to workplace productivity and there have been numerous studies on that very topic, focusing on things like the best time of day to work, how often to take breaks, and even the benefits of looking at cute pictures of cats to boost your performance. For our purposes, we’re going to focus on environment. Specifically, your home.

We live in a time when more and more of us are unable to “punch out” at the end of the day and leave our work at the office. Whether it’s checking emails, staying up late grading papers, or studying for a work-related exam, odds are you’ll find yourself having to work in your home at some point.

Step 1: Choose which room you will dedicate to work

Whether it’s a bedroom or home office, you’ll want to be consistent with which room serves as your productivity zone. Just as you’ve trained your body to sleep when your head hits the pillow, you’ll need to train your brain to work when you sit down at your desk at home.

Step 2: Setting up your desk

You won’t get much work done if your back aches or if your chair is so comfortable that you’re likely to fall asleep in it. Pick a chair that is sturdy and ergonomic, and make sure your screen and keyboard are at a good height so you aren’t slouched.

Step 3: Setting the mood

If you need noise to work, determine what kind of noise will help you stay focused. There are sites like Noisli that let you combine different natural sounds. Pandora radio is free and will play a diverse mix of songs based on what you want to hear, and you can pay a small monthly fee to get rid of the ads. Maybe nature sounds and music are too distracting for you but the sound of silence is even worse. If that’s the case you might want to invest in a white noise fan.

Step 4: Do some decorating

As important as the sound in your environment is what you put in it and how you arrange it. Depending on personal preference, you might want to keep your workplace either minimalistic or homey. You should also consider the lighting of the room. Dimming the lights a bit might save your eyes some strain if you’re looking at a computer screen for hours at a time. Generally speaking, people work best in natural lighting (so avoid blue LEDs or harsh fluorescent bulbs).

The options are endless and the best way to find out what keeps you productive is to experiment with different set ups. What’s most important is that you find what works for you. And remember, this isn’t the office; you have the opportunity to design a productivity sanctuary of your design. Why settle for anything other than perfect?

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The Psychological Benefits of Reduced Household Clutter

Imagine an area of your home that’s particularly cluttered now, and then picture in your mind’s eye how nice it would look if it was cleaned and organized. If you take a few seconds to visualize this scenario, it will feel like a breath of fresh air! For many people, a cluttered, disorganized living space or working environment tends to create mental clutter — and that makes it nearly impossible to be at your best.

On the other hand, when you create a plan to organize your storage space and get rid of household clutter, you’re taking a major step toward enhancing your home and the way you feel about it. Although you may have a dozen or more areas that need to be organized, if you create a methodical plan to tackle one small area at a time, then the project is much more achievable and less overwhelming.

The Outcome Is Worth The Effort

If you’ve ever undertaken a task like this, you know how rewarding it can be to see the results. You’ll also enjoy the feeling of pride that accompanies improving the look and feel of your home. When you’ve transformed chaos into a semblance of order, it can have a positive effect on your attitude and your self esteem. Although taking charge of household clutter is not a panacea for stress, it can be one of several improvements that make a big difference.

Where to Begin

You can infuse a feeling of fresh energy into your home by organizing and cleaning the following ten areas:

  1. Closets: Most homes have a ton of them and they’re probably in a major state of disarray!
  2. Book shelves: If you have a library of books, then organizing them can dramatically improve the appearance of any room — from living rooms and family rooms to bedrooms and home offices.
  3. Kitchen cabinets (Check expiration dates while you’re organizing.)
  4. Bathroom cabinets and drawers (Refer to note in item #3.)
  5. Junk drawers: Virtually every home has them, and they usually consist of a combination of junk and treasures. In most cases, it’s obvious what should be thrown away and what’s worth saving.
  6. Garage and tool sheds: These areas are typically in desperate need of cleaning and organizing.
  7. Work bench: If tools, hardware, and supplies are haphazardly piled on top of each other or randomly strewn on your work bench, then finding what you need when you need it becomes increasingly frustrating and time consuming. Taking an hour or so to organize your work bench can make life a lot simpler and more productive.
  8. Spare bedrooms: In many people’s homes, that area tends to become a repository for things that either need to be put away, given away, or thrown away.
  9. File cabinets: Being able to find important documents, information, and receipts depends on well organized and clearly labeled files. Ideally, that takes place on an ongoing basis, but if that’s not happening, a semi-annual review of your filing system can help keep things in good order.
  10. Basements: Depending on how long you’ve lived in your house, this might be a project that needs to be spread out over a few days!

Involving members of your family in the cleanup plan can also make it move along faster and feel more like a team effort, rather than a solo undertaking. To avoid procrastination, start small and branch out from there. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”