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Thread: Family members and inaccessible homes

  1. #11
    Thanks again for all the responses! We have several portable ramps, but no one wants to host anything. They claim that since our house is already accessible, why can't we just do it here? For family members who only have a couple of steps, helping him in is problematic because I have had chronic hip problems and now cannot lift anything heavy without the risk of dislocating the implant, and family members do not wish to help because if we "just got together at your house", there would be no problem. I have no problem hosting holidays, but I wish we could meet out somewhere maybe once a year. It would be nice to have my kids see everyone in a different location than just their house. I just don't understand their attitude. I would move heaven and earth to make my family and friends feel comfortable and welcome in my home, and I'm so fortunate that they would do the same for me and my family. Perhaps it is unreasonable to wish they would at least store a ramp for the occasional visit, but even that seems like we are asking for too much. I don't expect them to host any holidays, I just don't understand their anger when we can't do it for whatever reason. They act like we are deliberately ruining the holiday, when for this past year my physical ability to host almost 40 people was just not there. I've been told, and I understand that my mother and father in law are getting older (mid eighties), but I just could not do it on crutches this year, I wish I could have or there would not be this anger and resentment on their part towards me and my husband. I guess maybe a get together over the summer might smooth things over, but I feel bad that they think I just cancelled on a whim, which was NOT the case at all!

  2. #12
    I hear you.

    But you have made it too easy for them. So now they are lazy. Time to cut back. Let your husband mange the discussions with the family. They will recover, and will adjust. Give it time.

    And you should not be managing the ramps alone. There must be some strong young individuals who will help.

    Most people are not evil.... But sometimes you have to just say no, and it sounds like that just isn't in your nature. Maybe something to work on?

  3. #13
    Senior Member Oddity's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Blog Entries
    I don't think it is unreasonable AT ALL to expect someone to store a ramp at their place. That is just common courtesy, IMO. A frank conversation seems in order. Might ruffle a feather or two, but they'll get over it. That's part of being "family".
    "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

    "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

    "Even what those with the greatest reputation for knowing it all claim to understand and defend are but opinions..." -Heraclitus, Fragments

  4. #14
    I'm very fortunate that my wife's family has been so accommodating. One brother-in-law built a portable ramp so I could get into their house. It is only two steps up and our portable ramp would work just fine, but he wanted to make his own. It is much wider and longer so it's a little easier for someone to push me up it. My other brother-in-law's house sits pretty high up. When they put a deck around their pool they included a ramp for me to get into their house. This ramp does have to go back and forth because of how high up the door is from the ground. I'd say it's at least 8 feet high. I'm sure it was at least an extra $1,000 or more to do this. What's even more impressive is they built it mainly for me and we only visit them once or twice a year. Every other family member we visited we've been able to use our portable ramps. We have a fairly short one, about 3 ft. long and the a much longer one, probably 8 feet long and in 2 sections.

    We've typically hosted a large chunk of the family gatherings even before my accident because we have an open floor plan with plenty of room. After my accident our house was modified for me and we had an addition put on so I could sleep in a bedroom instead of the living room. From the outside one would never know that a person with a wheelchair lives there. Instead of putting ramps every where we had them put sidewalks up to the two front doors at the proper ADA slope. They the pour the concrete so that it was level with the bottom of the doors.

    All of our modifications now make our house an even better gathering place since my mother-in-law now uses a walker and has difficulty getting around. As one of my neighbors said, "They should build all homes handicapped accessible from the start because at some point you'll need those features since we all are going to just get older. You don't even need to be in a wheelchair to make use of the modifications. Just think what you might need if you broke a hip?" I couldn't agree with him more.
    C5/C6 since 2007 due to car accident

  5. #15
    When we host family holidays, NL is very good as "assigning" attendees jobs. She writes up a menu and circulates it via email to those who will at the celebration. Usually, she is very open ended and makes suggestions about what types of food would go well with the main course. After she get feedback as to what people would like to bring, she sends another email, something like this:

    Christmas Dinner
    NL: Roast Turkey and Gravy
    Aunt Sally: Stuffing
    Cousin Jean: Mashed Potatoes
    Christa: Brussels Sprouts Casserole
    Malcolm: Appetizers
    Carolyn: Dessert
    Vicky: Dessert
    Jason: Wine
    Bill: Beer and drinks for the kids

    Sometimes the dishes are prepared and brought to the party and reheated or NL invites family members to use her kitchen to make the last minutes kinds of foods.

    NL usually leaves table setting to the kids under the guidance of an adult. Most of the time she has the younger ones making/coloring and cutting out place cards for the diners.

    When there are times you can't do the heavy lifting, ask for help with cleaning, shopping, and cooking of the main course. I remember one year, NL just had knee surgery and was on crutches. She called on family members to rally to her aid. She organized the entire Thanksgiving weekend by computer and had "volunteers" shopping, cleaning, ironing table cloths, and preparing food. She "supervised" from a chair, leg propped up and a glass of champagne nearby. HA! She's great!

    All the best,

  6. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Hampstead NC
    It is unfortunate your relatives are so insensitive, and their approval is so necessary to you! It is quite obvious that these people use you, and do so badly. The way to stop this is not to be able to feed them or perhaps even be able to seat them when they pop in.

    After several applications of your not being prepared for their tribe, making them buy the chow, (never cheap) and even cleaning up the house, they will slow down their visits, you simply make it too easy for them to abuse your hospitality. You will never quite understand the selfishness these people exhibit. Because you are, what you are, and that is unselfish, and welcoming, but now they should be catering to you. My "mom" was like that and as soon as her in law relatives no longer needed something from her, they never spoke to her again. That is something I will never forget or forgive.

    Yes we have the almost compulsory portable ramps, one short, and home made, and one longer aluminum folding. They work when we have a older sibling get together, (usually Thanksgiving) when we (all of us) rent a home/condo for the week, as centrally located, as possible. which can be an interesting project, because we are scattered across the Nation. But I am the only crip in the group, most private rental homes say HP accessable, but often getting to the front door is the challenge. And I must have my powered wheelchair, or be pushed in a manual chair, as well as a HP set up bathroom. Finding such places can be a challenge, but we seem to be able to find someplace acceptable every year.

    It is perhaps time for these folks to cater to you, and you not be home for them when they show up unannounced. If they have to go home because you will not answer the door, they might get the message. You, and they need to accept the fact you can no longer do it alone. Not that you don't want to, you simply cannot do it. Make them understand that, it if they will. If they won't send them on their way. You'll cry and feel badly for quite a while, but that will pass. Even if your husband does all this, you will still feel badly. Let it go.

    Sorry if this sounds brutal, but abuse takes many forms, and this is one form of abuse. That's the way it is.

  7. #17
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    New Zealand -- T10 AIS C
    I have read most of the first section of this thread.
    Here is my take, for what it is worth.
    Wheelchairs or no, people need to get it into their heads that shit can happen at any turn AND we all age and with age comes those unforeseen considerations, like ease of accessibility and with that, continued independence.
    I have seen my Father in a care facility and my Auntie too. Those places are the very last option for any thinking person. I would rather demise than exist in such a place.

    Accessible homes are for the able bodied too. In fact the able bodied would benefit greatly and function a whole lot better with such planning of their homes; we all would.
    IMO well planned accessible homes are smart, efficient homes for both cripples and the able bodied.
    Perhaps they should be compulsory under planning legislation??

    As for the original family stuff of the OP, that is best sorted directly; or not.
    Be an independent person and stand your ground. It seems to me that by catering to their wants you have become the social welfare stop off for the extended family. You have made a rod for your back and will have to endure until such time that you change. Because after so long, it is very apparent that they wont.
    Or just suck it up.

  8. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Hampstead NC
    Quote; "Perhaps they should be compulsory under planning legislation?? "

    Being a former Fire, Building, Zoning Codes officer, think such a legislative rule "IF Fought" would be found unconstitutional. "WE" (codes) officers do not belong in anyone's "home" telling you how to arrange it. After the actual construction, for which you pulled a permit, and you get a Certificate of Occupancy, A CEO does not belong in your home as a municipal officer. "I" have no right to interfere within your home without a complaint and your permission, OR without a search warrant, for a very specific purpose.

    There is no way HP accessibility can be a required undesired design for a private home. However, multiple occupancy rental units can be required to have such design requirements.

    I can think of many reasons you might want to build your new home HP accessible, besides being more salable. But that is "the owner's" choice, not a possible municipality's legislative requirement.

  9. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    New Zealand -- T10 AIS C
    OK, there are aspects that I am not familiar with and had not considered.

    That is interesting when there is so much legislation that impinges on our 'rights' almost at every turn; but not when it comes to designing an efficient dwelling?
    Maybe the design benefits should be put forward for consideration by developers/owners for all potential or existing dwellings.
    Accessibility is the furthest from the minds of most all people until the reality arrives by way of accident, illness or plain old age.
    It would save a lot of $ personally (and through the state- our taxes) and dislocation if the family home was designed with the future in mind.
    It is far nicer to be able to function within the community that you are familiar with rather than have to relocate to suit your health needs.

  10. #20
    While neither federal or state laws in the USA mandate "visitability" for new private home construction, some towns and cities have implemented this. Here is a definition of "visitability":

    “Visitability” means a very basic level of accessibility that enables people with disabilities to easily visit homes. Three architectural conditions usually distinguish a visitable home: (1) one entrance with no steps, (2) doorways at least 32 inches wide, and (3) at least one half-bath on the main floor.

    This article is from 2010, so there many be a number of other examples of these jurisdictions who have enacted this as part of code since that time:


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