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Top tips to make your cottage safer for all ages and abilities

(NC) For many Canadians, their cottage is their favourite place on Earth. However, visiting a cottage can often be a challenge for people with physical or cognitive issues. Here are five areas the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario recommends focusing on to make your cottage safe for guests of all ages and abilities.

Cottages are often built on hilly terrain, meaning you need to climb up or down a flight of stairs to get to the front door. If that’s the case at your cottage, is there a way to build a ramp or a lift for safe access? If not, is there a side door on level ground that guests can use?

If possible, consider making at least one bedroom fully accessible. You may need to make space on the main level for a bedroom, with a door wide enough for a wheelchair or walker to pass through, for example. Adding motion or voice-activated lights can also help people with vision issues avoid tripping hazards.

Having an accessible bathroom is essential. It should have an open area large enough for a wheelchair or walker to manoeuvere in, grab bars by the toilet and in the bathing area, and a barrier-free bathtub or shower stall.

There are a few low-cost, DIY steps you can take to make a kitchen more accessible. For example, replacing small and hard-to-grip doorknobs and handles with large U-shaped ones that are easier to open with arthritic hands, or installing a motion- or voice-activated faucet.

If you have the budget for it, some motorized cabinets and countertops rise and lower at the push of a button.

Cottage country often features some steep and tricky terrain to navigate. If possible, grade the soil so there’s an even walkway free of roots and other tripping hazards. Or build a slightly raised boardwalk with a railing along one or both sides. In some cases, you might want to invest in an exterior lift to get from an elevated cottage down to the water.

Find more information about how licensed occupational therapists can help make homes and cottages accessible at


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