Many families affected by SMA choose to make home modifications in order to meet their family’s needs.
Home modifications can be made to improve safety, such as installing guardrails or support bars. They can also be made to improve accessibility, such as installing an outdoor ramp or widening doorways. In many cases, modifications address both safety and accessibility.
Home Modification Considerations
Before making a decision on home modifications, consider the following:
- How old is your house? While most homes require some sort of modification, homes built more than 30 years ago often have additional challenges, such as very narrow doorways.
- How long do you plan to live in your house? If you may move in the next few years, that could affect the type of modifications you choose to make.
- What will happen if your abilities or your child’s abilities change, or if your needs change as a family? SMA is not a static disease. Abilities may change over time, and your goals and desires as a family may change. Will the modifications you make be adaptable to your new situation?
- Can new equipment substitute for home modifications? For example, a bath chair is less expensive and less involved than a complete bath or shower remodel, and the bath chair may suffice, at least for a period of time.
- What financial resources are available? Like any home remodeling project, home modification can be quite expensive. There are many organizations that make grants for home modifications, but these do not always cover all the costs. Another option is to choose more cost-effective modifications. A sturdy, portable ramp can be purchased, often for just a few hundred dollars. This is less expensive than installing a permanent ramp or repaving your entire front walkway. In addition, some portable ramps can easily be collapsed and taken on a visit to friends or family.
- How permanent do your home modifications need to be? For example, many support poles use tension rods, and many support rails are collapsible and moveable. Some families appreciate the flexibility that these items provide; others prefer the ease of guardrails or grab bars that are permanently installed.
- Do you have a contractor that you trust? It’s best to choose a contractor who has experience in creating accessible homes. Get recommendations from families in your area who have made home modifications. Check out online contractor reviews. Bring in at least three contractors to review your project. Evaluate them based on expertise, cost, and your comfort level.
Many families have found the following resources useful: