In general, when you think of a basement, you don’t think of it being the sort of place that is handicap accessible. After all, a basement is usually down below the ground floor of your house, and getting up and down from it usually entails using a flight of stairs. Still, a basement can be set up to allow for handicap use.
Step one is access – getting in and out of the basement. Depending on the level of physical mobility, you may need a lift of some sort. Now, you can get a unit that slides up and down on a track that runs along a flight of stairs, and the seat folds up when not in use. These are best if your family member has some limited mobility and only really has trouble with the stairs. If they need a walked or cane, that’s easy enough to carry or even leave one down in the basement.
Now, if your family member needs a wheelchair, you can install a full elevator to move between floors. Those are generally very expensive, but sometimes insurance companies will help you defray some of the cost. On the other hand, if you have an outside door to the basement, sometimes just a simple ramp will be enough to provide access. If the area outside of the door is exposed to the elements, you may need to build a deck, walkway, or a roof area to protect the person from the weather.
As for items in the basement, there are plenty of things that are handicap accessible. A simple table gives you a place to sit and work or play, and even bathrooms can be accessible for someone in a wheelchair. If the family member wants to take a bath, there are handicap accessible tubs that have sides that swing open like a door.
The person can roll into the tub, close the door, and take a bath. If they prefer a shower, they are even easier to access. A handicap shower has no edge; the floor is just sloped slightly so that the water flows to a floor drain. Also, the showers tend to be slightly larger than a standard walk-in shower – to allow for a chair or assistant.
Even if you have a handicapped family member who needs oxygen or medications, they can use the basement. Any sorts of tubing, attachments etc can be incorporated into the walls. This can be a very positive aspect of life for a handicapped person, especially if the basement is the family’s playroom and rec centre. You don’t want a handicapped member of the family to feel left out, and using these measures can insure that they’re not.