Begin by asking the person with a mobility issue where
they’re experiencing the most difficulty in the home.
Aside from mobility and safety issues, you can also help
them think about other areas where they may be
experiencing some difficulty, such as how and where
things should be stored, how to clean certain things
around the home, and how to make food and meal
preparation easier for them. After you both have written
some key issues and concerns down, go into every room of
the house and really study each area, going through the
person’s daily routine in your mind, and think about
what they do in each of these rooms and what problems
they may encounter. Every little thing, from the alarm
clock in the bedroom to how the food is placed inside
the kitchen cupboards, needs to be taken into
consideration in order to achieve a good level of
comfort, ease and safety.
Dissect the home room-by-room, including corridors and
stairways, with special concentration on the most
crucial areas for safety concerns, like the bathroom,
bedroom, and kitchen:
Alarm Clock – purchase one that has large enough
controls to make it easier to use than one with small
buttons and dials.
Bed – position the bed where it will give the person
enough space to move around it easily. Try and get an
electrically-controlled bed that allows the person to
regulate its height, If desired, you can also add guard
rails that will help support the person when they need
to turn over and keep them from falling out of bed.
Bedside lighting – use a heavy, stable lamp or some form
of wall lighting with illuminated switches. Keep chords
and wires away from where people walk.
Nightstand – use a non-slip or non-skid material on the
bottom or base of items that are needed on the table.
Rugs – to prevent falling, tripping, or slipping, avoid
using area rugs . If these types of rugs are needed or
desired, be sure to attach the rug to the floor so it
won’t slip when under foot, and avoid using rugs which
Closet – place storage items at eye level. Install
concertina-style closet doors which slide and fold,
making opening and closing easier. Fit door(s) with
handles that are comfortable and easy to grip. Arrange
clothes according to how often they are worn.
Bath/Shower – use a non-slip mat on its floor. Keep
bathing products close to where they are used, and make
sure they are in easy-to-handle containers. Install
support bars for gripping. For the tub, use a plug with
a chain attached in order to safely unplug it. Fill the
tub only half full, and use a thermostat-controlled tap.
Consider using a bath/shower chair or a bath lift.
Personal care corner – if you have room to do so, create
an area in the bathroom that’s specifically for your
loved one where they can sit down for personal
activities. If the bathroom isn’t big enough for this,
try to place a comfortable chair that will fit at the
bathroom counter just long enough for them to get ready
with a bit more ease and remove when no longer needed.
Toothbrush – get one with an enlarged handle for easy
gripping, or consider purchasing an electric toothbrush.
Hairbrush – use brushes and combs with long handles.
Hairdryer and other electronic devices used for personal
care - leave these permanently plugged in to avoid
problems with taking the plugs in and out of a socket.
Whenever possible, try and use cordless products.
Medicine Cabinet – if there’s room, try and place it at
eye level; otherwise, make arrangements to store
medications and other toiletries that are needed with
regularity in an easy-to-reach container.
Nail care – always use nail clippers instead of nail
Floor – use bathroom mats that have a non-skid backing.
Sink/tub/shower – Install an individual tap for hot and
cold; consider getting a thermostatic mixer tap for all
Toilet – make sure it has a seat that raises the height
of the toilet, and install support bars around the area.
Toilet paper dispenser – use one that stays firmly
attached to the wall and is in easy reach.
Door – privacy; make sure that it can be easily unlocked
from outside if needed, as well as using a lock that’s
easy for the person on the inside.
Chairs – when preparing meals, it’s a good idea to have
an office chair or studio chair to sit in while doing
Coffee maker – choose a simple model with a handle
that’s easy and comfortable to grip, and has an accurate
spout. Consider getting an electric coffee maker; leave
it plugged in permanently to make shutting it on and off
Electrical sockets – place appliances to give easy
access to electrical sockets when needed.
Cupboards and drawers – arrange food items on sliding
trays and carousels. Place heavy items such as soup or
vegetable cans at eye level. Select the most frequently
used plates, cups, and cookware and place them within
easy reach; avoid putting these things on high shelves.
Put utensils in an easily accessible drawer. Carefully
consider the needs of the person using the kitchen when
selecting handles and knobs for cabinets and drawers.
Food cart – utilize a food cart with wheels and at least
two levels to serve meals. Food and dishes can be
wheeled where needed and easily taken off and placed
back on to cart.
Kitchen knives – get knives that are right-angled or
have a knob handle. Select chopping boards that are
non-skid and easy to clean. For cutting food, get
special utensils that have a cutting guide to keep the
food and utensils safely in place.
Kitchen sink – place a shock-absorbing rubber mat on the
bottom. Install a mixer-tap with thermostat control
instead of individual hot and cold handles.
Microwave – choose a model that has touch-sensitive
controls or soft-notched buttons.
Can opener – use an electric can opener, and use
specialized grips for tight jar lids.
Armchairs – get chairs with firm cushions to help make
it easier when getting up;
there are also chair lifts which can be placed in
comfortable chairs, or easy-chairs that already have the
Bookcases – keep the items which are least-used on the
higher shelves and light the inside of the shelves.
Remote control – get a universal remote that has large
buttons; some of these also come illuminated.
Lamps – be sure to use sturdy table or floor lamps that
won’t easily tip over and will give off the amount of
light desired; some lamps are touch-sensitive, and are
easier to use for someone who may have problems
manipulating a small switch.
Telephone – it’s best to use a cordless, allowing for
use anywhere in the room; keep cords, base, and
telephone connection out of the way of general passage
Floor/area – keeping as clutter-free as possible. Use
shelves to store items, and place things which are used
most on the bottom for easy-access. If parking the car
inside, be sure that there is plenty of clearance on all
sides to ensure safety when getting in and out of it, as
well as when walking around it to get to something. Work
benches should be kept clean, with any sharp or
flammable items stored in their proper place, inside a
Door – use an electric garage door opener with remote
control and wall switch.
Stairs – have the entire stairwell brightly lit, and
clearly mark where stairs begin and end, either with
brightly-colored tape or with directional lighting that
can be concentrated at the exact points where stairs
begin and end. Make sure that stairwells have banisters
running the full length on both sides.
Hallways/corridors – be sure that light switches are
large and easy to reach and at the appropriate height.
Install support bars, if needed, throughout the length
of the corridor.
Doors – mark thresholds with a strip of brightly-colored
tape or paint. Use standard lever handles.
Alarms – use a personal emergency response system which
has a cordless alarm that can be worn around the wrist
or neck. For a home alarm system, select a very simple
model that connects to a telephone assistance service
and uses a remote control or a swipe card to activate
Windows – install windows which slide open and shut, or
use windows that pivot and have lever-type handles for
Vacuum cleaner – get a model that’s lightweight,
easy-to-manage, and has an automatic cord-rewind. Be
sure it has a three-pin electric plug with a ring handle
for easy plugging and unplugging.
Washing machine/dryer – select top loading machines. Get
models that have touch-sensitive control panels, or
controls with large knobs.
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