Home Modifications for Safety and Autonomy
Before bringing your loved one home from the hospital or rehab facility, you need to look at the home through a different lens. Things that were convenient and easy to use, may be inconvenient, uncomfortable, or dangerous. Here are some tips about improving the environment:
Before Survivor Comes Home
• Remove throw rugs and clutter! Things that could cause a stumble or a fall need to go!
• Install plenty of night lights so neither you or your survivor are walking in the dark.
• Install grab bars and use a tub bench to reduce chances of falling in the bathroom or shower.
• Purchase a non-slip tub mat.
• Check all railings to be sure they are sturdy and secure. Have additional railings installed if necessary.
• Consider a portable alert system so survivor can easily call for help if necessary.
• Are there power tools or weapons in the home? Depending on mental state, removal of guns or other weapons may be prudent. Ask a friend to keep them for you for a while. Are there table saws or even electric carving knives that could be a danger? Consider ways to disable them, lock them up, or remove them if you are uncertain about whether the survivor might attempt to use them. Remember, post stroke, judgement is often impaired and the ability to recognize the extent of the damage may not be there.
After Survivor Returns Home
• Be sure survivor wears sturdy, nonslip footwear, even when getting up to go to the bathroom at night. (This is a good idea for the caregiver too...with all that is on your plate, it's no time for you to get injured!)
• If survivor is well enough to be left alone, urge him/her to use the microwave instead of the stove for cooking. Consider an electric tea kettle or Keurig beverage maker.
• If survivor is alone, urge avoidance of stairs, if possible.
• Consider clap-on devices, remotes of all sorts (for window blinds, tv's, household alarm system, lights, thermostat and more.)
• Consider a baby monitor so you can get things done without feeling like you constantly need to zip to where s/he is, to ensure s/he is ok. If you have an smart phone, you can make it into a monitor instead of buying the monitor. Click here for instructions. If you aren't sure about how to do this, ask one of the neighborhood kids to help!)
• Pay attention to one-sided disabilities. What is convenient for the survivor increases his/her autonomy, which makes things easier for you! For example, do you have double sinks in the master bath? How does the cabinet under it or medicine chests near it open? Perhaps switching sides would be beneficial. Likeswise, switch sides of the bed to make the bathroom more convenient or if getting out of bed is easier on one side than the other. Be aware that sided injuries can affect visual field too...your loved one may tend to eat things on one side of the plate much more than the other side...urge him/her to rotate the plate. (It beats saying, "Aren't you going to eat the rest of your dinner???!)
Check back to this page often! I will continue to update this with ideas. Ultimately, I will review mentioned products and
provide links to those I think are good. If you have made modifications or have suggestions to share with others, PLEASE
contact me so I can post your contribution! We all learn from each other!