What is a Wheelchair Ramp and Why Use One?
A wheelchair ramp is just what it sounds like. It is an inclined plane that can be added to a home or facility to replace or add to stairs. This inclined surface is designed mainly to aid those who use wheelchairs, but it can also help seniors who find walking up or down stairs difficult.
In addition, these ramps can be helpful to people pushing carts or strollers, along with other wheeled objects like rollators.
When we think of a wheelchair ramp, most of us probably picture a long concrete ramp leading up to the entrance of a public building. Many times, there will be a set of stairs on the opposite side of the ramp. Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, wheelchair ramps are required for most public-use buildings.
This is certainly an accurate picture, however, there are many other kinds of wheelchair ramps that serve various purposes. Especially if you are a senior that is seeking to age in place, proper wheelchair ramps throughout your home will ensure that you can maintain your mobility, dignity and safety.
Permanent and semi-permanent ramps for homes are usually made from concrete, wood, and even aluminum.
Another kind of wheelchair ramp is referred to as portable. Many of these ramps are made from aluminum because it is lightweight yet strong. Portable ramps are great for those who are on the go, have a small porch step, or need to get through thresholds and uneven surfaces on a daily basis. Most portable ramps fold up, making them small and easier to carry and transport. They are only recommended to be used when necessary, though most are durable enough to be left in one spot for a short period of time. If you’re aging in place and seeking to upfit your home for a long length of time, we recommend choosing permanent options that you can install and don’t have to worry about updating.
Portable ramps are good as a temporary solution, rather than a permanent one.
What to Buy
If you are considering purchasing a wheelchair ramp of any kind, whether for yourself or someone to whom you care for, you should think through a few factors.
First of all, would it make more sense for you to invest in a permanent ramp, or should you stick with a portable option? A permanent ramp is ideal for someone who uses a wheelchair 24/7 and wants to stay in their own home. It wouldn’t make much sense to constantly pick up and put down a portable ramp, so a permanent fixture would be wiser, safer, and more cost effective.
Portable ramps may be a good solution for someone who is temporarily in a wheelchair, say for an illness or injury. It is also a good idea for someone who is still capable of walking but may not feel comfortable taking on the stairs. A gradual climb up could be easier for them. Portable options are also great for seniors who travel a lot or still like to go out often to do things like get groceries, visit friends, or other daily activities. Portable options are foldable and easy to carry, although they still might require a caregiver to help bring around and set up when needed.
Since many wheelchair ramps are utilized outdoors, it’s always smart to consider how weatherproof your purchase is. Something that is sturdy and water-resistant will do the trick. Anti-corrosive aluminum is an excellent and commonly used option.