Category Archives: accessible remodeling

The Very Non-Traditional Roll-In Shower

Accessible showers; love them or hate him they are a fact of life if you can’t walk, but the good news – there are a lot of accessible showers to choose from. They vary on your mobility level, so you only have to install what you absolutely need. You can feel at our site the excitement of the game.

All some people need is a simple shower bench (lucky ducks), and then you have the folks like me who need a roll-in shower AND a special “waterproof wheelchair” (aka shower chairs). Who knew taking a shower could be so complicated? When I moved, I was without a shower for over one month. Oh what a wait (thank god from my interim bathtub).

Making the bathroom in my new place accessible shower-wise was a journey. Firstly, we decided to go the unique, lesser-taken route in the accessible shower world. Instead of doing a typical tiled roll-in shower, which can take weeks (and can cost a lot more), we installed a Corian custom roll-in shower from Innovative Solutions, a small company in Hastings, Minnesota.

While this company isn’t known for making accessible showers (their main source of business is custom kitchen counter tops), they will create and install an accessible shower stall to fit any dimensions, which my dad (who’s a plumber) knew from word of mouth; really beautiful stuff that costs less than $3000, and we needed some lesser requested dimensions as well.

Instead of the typical long and roomy roll-in shower, we went the less expensive route and decided to make the shower stall that was already in my bathroom accessible. This meant cutting out the floor, the walls, getting measurements and installing big pieces of Corian and a matching ramp. They also made sure the entire bottom of the shower was sloped towards the drain.

All in all, it’s a pretty brilliant setup. I would totally recommend this to other wheelers. There’s one thing to keep in mind however – my version can get pretty wet despite this special drain. Let’s just say I’ve become an expert at towel placement outside of the shower stall.

When you use a roll-in shower/shower chair combo to shower, you can usually guarantee the bathroom floor will always get soaked, but if you ask me a wet floor is a small price to pay for the blissfulness, not to mention cleanliness, a shower can bring.

It may not be as roomy as the shower in my old place, but I don’t mind. I have one and that’s all that matters. Nearly nothing can beat my 15 minute hot shower neck soaks. Roomy or tiny shower, it’s pure heaven.

What unique ways have you made a shower accessible?

Products Mentioned

­Innovative Surfaces

Photo courtesy of Flickr CC

Back to Bath: Taking a Bath Again After 8 Years

bathSomething amazing happened the other day – I took a bath after a 8 year hiatus.  This is a big deal when you’re paralyzed and so many things you used to love are no longer possible. And tubbing only possible because I recently moved and live in a place that has a jetted bathtub. Taking a bath was like walking again; almost.

What it feels like truly is that I’m reclaiming who I used to  be. I am without question a bath person, definitely not a roll-in shower person, so now that I’m back in a bath tub, all seems right with the world.  If only I could do this with everything else in my life, like walking.

The bath itself however was beyond divine even if my balance is truly horrible and being in the bathtub feels nothing like it used to be before my injury. The hot water, the jets and bubbles, they’re oh so good.

I did however anticipate that my balance would be an issue, so I found a local medical supply company that rents bath lifts.  I was going to buy one at first, and then I got smart realizing I may not like the lift. So I found this bath lift to rent – the Rio Invacare Bath Lift – and so far so good.

The remote itself is completely waterproof and the seat goes all the way to the bottom of the tub, lowering with a touch of the button The seat is great for helping me with balance.  It can be a bit tricky though getting into this lift.

After transferring me into my shower chair, my caregiver will park me alongside the bathtub, pivot transfer me down to the side of the tub, and then transfer over into the chair itself. A lot more steps, but the safety is more than worth it.

My only complaint is that the chair does not stay suctioned to the bottom of the tub as it’s designed to do, and lifts up when transferring out of it.  While it’s a good thing I’m not overweight, this kind of thing can get you dropped on the floor real quick.

Always make sure you have towels nearby, just in case, and make sure to stock up on a slough of tasty bath bombs.

How do you take a bath despite not being able to stand-up?

Products Mentioned

Rio Bath Lift from Home Access Products

Bath bombs from Lush

Finally, A Recliner I Won’t Get Stuck In!

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This weekend I received a gift from my grandmother, who is in her nineties and is my last living grandparent. She has always been a fun, feisty women and I believe I get a lot of my best traits from her; including my stubbornness. Of course, there are people who might consider that to be a negative trait; however, I find it is one that comes in handy when living life with a disability.

About a week ago my Dad called me and asked if I wanted my Grandmother’s recliner. At first I freaked out thinking she had passed away. But then my dad explained that she was moving to a new place where she could receive more daily help, and that she couldn’t take everything with her. Apparently Grandma had specifically requested that I receive her chair. Not being one to say no to my Grandma under any circumstances, I agreed to take it.

When I sit on a couch I often don’t get the core support I need, so I end up slouching and getting an achy back. This is why I love sitting in a recliner; however, they present their own set of issues. Like most people, when I sit in a recliner, I like to put my feet up and, you know, recline. This wouldn’t be a problem except I either need to be content sitting for a long period of time, or someone needs to rescue me because it is next to impossible to get out unassisted.

My Grandma’s recliner solves this problem, which is why she insisted I receive it. Instead of a lever or manual button release, this recliner has a powered button that reclines the chair and then brings back to sitting on its own. I set it up right by the lamp so I can do my reading and quilting in that chair. At first, I was worried the cats might get under it and get squashed, but they seem to know to stay out of there.

Of course, not everyone has a Grandmother that gives you awesome furniture. Fear not, you can buy one. As a person that typically gets her furniture from thrift shops and relatives, I know the price of new furniture is a bit overwhelming. But if your relaxing needs are similar to my own, a chair like this will be any worthy investment.

Living In an Imperfect Place, During a Remodel

My living situation has been quite calm over the past years, so the tile demo in my bathroom earlier today is still having quite the frazzled effect on my nerves. So. much. noise (ouch my ears) and the dust….oh the dust. I’ve completely forgotten how unpleasant a remodel job is. I can dust mind you despite my paralyzed hands, it’s just….non-stop.

See, when you live in a place while it’s being remodeled, there’s a ton you learn along the way, and this is especially true if you use a wheelchair. My place is a 1 bedroom/1 bath condo. I moved into it seven years ago and it was completely revamped for my wheels (the bathroom was enlarged and the kitchen was gutted), and now….I’m looking to sell.

The reasons I’m selling are complicated, but the taxes in my area are definitely the biggest reason I’ve decided to move. Now finally, all those episodes I’ve watched of House Hunters can be of use. And the main thing I’ve learned – if you want a good price, you need to offer sellers a high-end bathroom. Hence my remodel. And to save money, I’m having family help.

Today was Day #1 of the demo and so far so good, minus the dust and noise complaints from neighbors of course. Oh, and the little foible of not being able to shower again for three more days (hellooo bed baths in the interim). At least we were able to rid my entire bathroom of tile in a few hours, roll-in shower and everything. And I must say, my bathroom is looking like a wreck right now. Granite slate and pretty white marble tile however in my future.

Part of the remodel to sell will also involve tearing up my carpet and installing wood floors. I had a grey Berber carpet installed a few years ago (to hide spills, chair marks, everything) and it worked like a dream. But to reallysell a place, shiny wood floors are the way to go, and that is up next, after the bathroom remodel. Also, we plan on marketing my place to a wheelchair-using seller, so wood floors are a no brainer.

While living with my carpet over the years, I put a Persian rug over one section of the carpet in my living room and while doing so, I realized rugs and wheelchairs do not get along. So I tried to find a solution and came across one of the best products for wheelchair-users – Robert’s Indoor Carpet Tape. This crazy tape can hold a rug down flat for years once it’s in place. Never again will you have to worry about a rug lifting up and getting caught in your wheels when you roll over it. Rugs have no chance against this stuff. Love it.

And another tool that’s helped me like a certified ninja to prep my place to sell is Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers. These little guys, after you get them damp, can remove any marks you’ve made on your walls. As a wheelchair-user and a powerchair-user at that, I make lot of marks. Going too fast around a corner, my footrest nicking the molding on my bathroom door the millionth time, walls marks and me are old buddies.

But for about $4, you can remove nicks and more without a single drop of paint. While holding one of these erasers myself is a bit tricky (they get smaller as you use them, just like an eraser), I have a PCA or family member help me do it. A few rubs and voila, your bad driving never happened.

Day #2 begins bright and early tomorrow, and the dust will fly once more. The biggest thing you really need is patience during a remodel, and I think this will be one of the biggest things I learn most over the next few weeks.

What lessons have you learned while remodeling?

Photo courtesy of Garann

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