If you live in an apartment, you don’t have much flexibility to make upgrades. Anything you want to do — even painting an accent wall — requires your landlord’s approval. You could go ahead and indulge, but implementing significant changes without permission risks your good standing. That said, if you’re a patient with chronic pain, particular adaptations can make your living space more accessible. Specific upgrades can considerably improve your overall quality of life. You do have the right to request accommodations, although your landlord may not need to foot the bill.
Consider these nine tips if you experience chronic pain and are moving into a new pad:
1. Know the Law
When you see an apartment advertised as “ADA compliant,” exercise caution. The ADA only applies to public spaces, not private lodging. That means, technically, there are no apartment properties that have ADA units. They may have adaptable units — for example, they may have reinforced walls in bathrooms for installing grab bars — but regulations mandating this only apply to buildings erected after 1991.
That doesn’t mean you lack rights, however. Landlords must provide reasonable accommodations to make your living space more comfortable. They may need to foot the bill for these expenses, but only if they meet specific tests.
Your landlord cannot prohibit you from making modifications at your own expense as long as those changes won’t render the property undesirable for the next tenant. They also can’t forbid you from making changes if you agree to undo them when you leave.
2. Investigate The Grounds
You might care most about the accessibility of your living space. However, the external conditions matter, too. Is your apartment located in a 3-storey walkup or at the top of a steep hill? If you experience challenges with balance, you might find it frustrating to carry your groceries to your door.
Specific property features can benefit your overall health and wellness. During the apartment search, look for environmental features and amenities that suit your needs.
If you suffer from a form of arthritis that causes mobility challenges, you can enjoy a more comfortable workout if your complex has a pool. Buoyancy offsets the effects of gravity, making exercise less painful when you’re achy.
3. Adjust Your Light Switches
It’s simpler than you think to adjust your light switches. However, if you feel uncertain about working with electricity, hire a licensed contractor to do the work.
The most critical step is ensuring that you’ve turned off the power source. Adjust your switches to a height you can comfortably reach if you use a wheelchair. You might also adjust your switches if you have a shoulder injury that makes raising your arm challenging.
4. Widen Doorways
If you’re in a wheelchair, you’ll need wider-than-average doorways. Buildings erected after 1991 need to include doors usable by wheelchair users in their design.
However, if you live in an older building, you’ll need to request these accommodations or even make them yourself. Usable doors also enable people who use walkers or crutches to maneuver more readily.
5. Use Lightweight Cookware
Do you experience difficulty raising your arms over your head? If so, you might struggle to reach items in high kitchen cabinets. This is another request that may be reasonable to ask of your landlord. If you have the budget, you can also adjust the cabinet height to make yours more comfortable to reach.
However, if you lack sufficient funds, switching to lightweight cookware can help. You can also opt for non-breakable cookware, so you don’t need to worry about picking up shattered glass. Silicon lasts a long time and is friendly to the environment.
6. Add Grab Bars In Bathrooms
80% of all household falls occur in the bathroom, typically when entering and exiting the tub or while using the toilet. Install grab bars in your bathroom to help with transferring yourself.
The highest quality bars attach directly to your wall. However, you can also find portable models. You just need to make sure they’ll support your weight.
7. Consider A Walk-In Shower
If you’re in a wheelchair or have to keep a cast dry, it can be challenging to bathe yourself. However, many newer apartments contain walk-in showers with no lip. This means you can enter and exit with ease even if you’re in a chair.
Another alternative is a walk-in bathtub. These cost a bit more, but they enable you to submerge yourself in the water. A hot bath can help alleviate chronic pain, especially if you include arnica or Epsom salts.
8. Replace Carpeting With Hard Flooring
It’s challenging to push a chair over carpeting. Additionally, this type of flooring can create risks for tripping — your shoes can become stuck, causing you to fall.
The best floors for people who have issues with balance are laminate or vinyl. These have a smooth surface, but they’re also soft if you do slip. Tile floors offer a smooth ride for chairs, but they pack a punch if you take a tumble.
9. Clear Excess Clutter
Finally, the least expensive way to improve the accessibility of your apartment is to clean up your clutter. If you still have boxes lying everywhere a month after move-in, you’ve created substantial safety hazards.
Strive to practice minimalist living as much as possible. You’ll save money and alleviate stress while eliminating unnecessary dangers.
Apartment-Dwelling Patients With Chronic Pain Have Rights
You do have rights if you live in an apartment but have chronic pain. Whether you foot the bill for these upgrades or request your landlord to make them, you can create a comfortable, accessible living space.