Home Safety Tips

Falls are the most common problem for people over 65. A fall can restrict your mobility, cause you to be injured and to lose your independence. All these are hard, of course, on the body, but also on your emotional wellbeing.

Having Parkinson's can affect your balance, your posture and the way you move. Consequently, avoiding or preventing a fall can be very important. Try not to become obsessed with falling, because your mind is a powerful tool for creating. (ie. We create what we focus on.) Instead, try and incorporate some of these suggestions for helping your home to help you.

Create a safer, easier home environment for yourself. Use common sense to keep your home clear of clutter that may cause you to trip.

Keep hallways and stairwells clear and well-lit. Make sure that carpets, including those on the stairs, have skid-proof backing or are securely tacked down.

If bending down causes you to lose your balance, ask someone for help but avoid doing it yourself. If you're unsteady outdoors, use a cane.

And if you fall but don't injure yourself, don't assume that you have to restrict your activities. Restricting your activities can cause you to lose strength, balance and coordination. This could put you at greater risk for another fall.

These tips are mostly common sense, but a little reminder can be helpful.

In the Living Room

You probably spend the bulk of your inside time in the living room. The key here, and with all the other rooms, is to plan a route through your house where you will always have something to hold onto, should you lose your balance.

Preventing a fall is more important than the aesthetic look of any room. Consider these options:

  • Arrange your furniture in a way that gives you ample room to move around. Don't make such wide spaces between things that you find yourself stranded, with nothing to steady you if you lose your footing. Make sure that you can easily grab something, if need be.

  • You want to make standing up and sitting down as easy an experience as possible. Try straight-back chairs with armrests or experiment with a firm pillow on your chair until you find the height that is right for you - the height that is the easiest for you to get up from.

  • Handrails are so important. Consider installing them in all your hallways and stairwells, even outside. Having something steady to grab will ease your mind and could prevent a serious fall.

  • If you are having trouble using the small buttons on your telephone, there are devices that can convert those buttons to larger, easier-to-use ones. It's a simple process to adapt your phone, and could make reaching out to others more convenient.
In the Bathroom

Maneuvering around in your bathroom could be the trickiest room of your house for you. Why do they make toilets so low down?

Also the floors, shower and tub can get so slippery. The bathroom is a frequently visited room too, so take the time to make it safe for you.

  • Make sure you don't slip in the shower - very scary. Try those non-skid decals on the tub or shower floor. A rubber mat is also extremely helpful for preventing falls.

  • A waxed floor is your enemy - no more waxing! Those small bathroom rugs might be the worst culprits of all. Get rid of 'em! You could get a much larger rug that covers most of the floor, or try wall-to-wall carpeting. If you do get a large rug, make sure it has skid-proof backing or is tacked securely to the floor.

  • You could install tub rails or grab bars throughout your bathroom. This will help you move around more safely and easily. You could also get a tub seat or shower chair to help you bathe more securely.

  • A raised toilet seat is a great and helpful option. You can install arm rails beside the toilet or install a grab bar on the wall.

  • You might want to get soap on a rope to avoid searching for a dropped soap bar. Another good idea to put a bar of soap into the end of a nylon stocking and use it like that.
In the Kitchen

The symptoms of PD can make your work in the kitchen, some days, especially challenging. Here are some helpful ideas for safety and ease:

  • Installing a peg-board and hanging your most frequently used utensils on it can be a great help. If you have only limited wall space, you might want to consider hanging those utensils right on the wall. Use a fastener that is easy for you to work.

  • If you can't make the peg-board idea work, keep all your often-used utensils together in an easy to reach cupboard or drawer.

  • If your drawers have small, finicky handles, get big beautiful (easy!) ones.

  • To keep bowls and pans stable, put a wet dishcloth or a rubber pad underneath them.

  • If you don't use an electric can opener, why not? They really reduce frustration. There are also electric jar-openers available.

  • How many times have you growled menacingly at your cutting board? Try one with raised edges all around so that the chopped bits stay where they're supposed to. Show those veggies who's the boss! You could also affix rubber suction cups to the bottom of your cutting board and that will help to keep it steady.

  • Avoid bending to the floor, especially if that makes you lose your balance. Use a long-handled dustpan and a long-handled mop or sponge. (Those long-handled items are now important members of your family!)

  • If you're finding that your pots and pans are now too heavy and you have to struggle with them, consider investing in lighter weight cookware. It's also a good idea to get pots and pans that have longer handles so that you can use both hands for lifting.
In the Bedroom

Anything that clutters your bedroom floor could be a tripping hazard - keep the floor and walking areas as clear as possible.

You want to have the easiest access to your bed, closet and dresser so rearrange the furniture if you need to. (Don't forget when/if rearranging to have something to grab onto in case you lose your balance.)

Put on shoes or rubber soled slippers to walk around in. Walking around the house in bare feet or socks only can be dangerous.

Here are some suggestions for making getting in and out of bed a little easier and safer for you:

  • It's good to have your bed at about knee height. If it's too high, have someone come in and shorten the legs. If it's too low, try a thicker mattress or a mattress pad.

  • If you're having difficulty changing position in the night, attach a wooden or metal triangle (trapeze) over the head of your bed. You can find them at most medical supply stores. (And plus you get to say that you have your very own trapeze at home!)

  • You could also try putting a sturdy cardboard box under the sheets at the foot of your bed. This will keep your legs and feet free of the sheets and help you to move around or turn over more easily.

  • An easy way to change the shape of your bed/mattress is to put a firm sponge pillow under the mattress at the head of your bed. Placing wooden risers under the legs at the head of your bed also works. This raises the head of your bed enough to help you sit up and get out of bed with less effort.

  • You could consider installing a handrail or grab bar alongside the wall. Place your bed so that it is against that wall. Use the handrail to help you sit up, get up or turn over in your bed.

Managing Daily Tasks
Handle Physical Stress
Help for the Special Problems of PD
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