How to Widen a Door for a Wheelchair

Many family caregivers see the need to modify their homes or their elderly parent’s homes as they become less mobile and need family caregiver services. One of the problems with existing homes is that they aren’t usually constructed with elderly people’s needs in mind. If an aging parent uses a walker or a wheelchair, getting through bathroom doorways can pose a particular challenge.

Caregiver in Robbinsville NJ: How to Widen a Door for a Wheelchair
Caregiver in Robbinsville NJ: How to Widen a Door for a Wheelchair

When family caregivers look into upgrading their house to accommodate wheelchairs, many are frustrated because the bathroom doors are just barely too narrow. One option is to remove the current doorframe and install a wider one. This usually involves drywall work, repainting and sometimes having to move light switches. However, there is a simple solution that may help family caregivers avoid all the construction—offset hinges.

Offset Hinges.

Offset hinges are designed to add two to three inches of doorway clearance, enabling wheelchairs and walkers to pass through. Think of it like this—most people measure the doorframe and then the wheelchair. When the wheelchair measurement is just a few inches less than the doorframe, they get excited thinking that no remodeling is necessary. However, when the wheelchair passes through the doorframe, it’s a tight fit.

That’s because the caregivers are not measuring the clearance, which is different than the width of the door frame. So how does clearance differ from frame width? Think about how the door hinges work. When opened, the edge of the door juts out into the doorway as much as two to three inches. This means that the door itself is blocking some of the doorway and causing problems for wheelchairs.

Offset hinges can be installed on any type of doorway and work so that the door swings out and away from the doorframe. It puts the pivot point a few inches away from the frame, allowing the door to open fully and exposing the full doorway for a wheelchair. It’s possible to gain two to three inches of clearance this way, without taking down the doorframe at all. Many people find that using offset hinges on bathroom and other doorways saves them the cost and hassle of remodeling interior door areas.

Of course, offset hinges may not work in all cases. If the wheelchair is wider than the doorframe itself, no special hinge can compensate. Also, if the door on its current hinges swings very close to a set fixture, like a sink or toilet, there may be problems with offset hinges. That’s because the offset hinges will put the door about two inches further into the bathroom. If the door is already close to something when opened, it may hit that object when mounted on an offset hinge.

When it comes to caring for an aging parent, family caregivers are making the commitment to provide them with a place to live that meets their needs. When those needs include making the house wheelchair friendly, it can become quite costly. Hopefully, widening the bathroom doors can be accomplished simply and affordably by turning to offset hinges.

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring caregiver services in Robbinsville, NJ or the surrounding areas, please call Independence Home Care today at 609-208-1111 for more information.



Teresa Sajkowski RN BSN CHPN

Teresa Sajkowski RN BSN CHPN

Owner of Always Responsive Home Care

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Caregiver in Robbinsville NJ