When an elderly loved one has a stroke, they commonly suffer from one or more permanent mental or physical disabilities. Things they once did with ease can become extremely difficult or even impossible. When stroke patients return home, they often require a number of home modifications to help them regain as much of their independence as possible.
Home health care professionals often help patients return to their homes, teaching them how to live independently. The disabilities associated with stroke victims can vary widely from patient to patient. So each case must be taken on an individual basis. However, you may find some of the following tips useful, particularly if you will be working alongside professional home health providers to care for your loved one.
Making the Home Safer for a Stroke Patient
Mobility: Some patients will require the use of a wheelchair to get around. To accommodate wheelchair access, doorways may need to be widened to at least thirty-two inches. Patients using a wheelchair or a walker require doors that swing open easily. Make sure the hinges are well-lubricated on all doors, and shave the edges of doors that stick or get hung up on rugs or carpeting.
Doors: In some instances, you might find it best to remove doors altogether. This will generally make it easier to widen the doorway as well as keep your loved one from struggling with gripping doorknobs. Wherever doorknobs are required, consider changing from traditional rounded knobs to lever door handles. Levered doorknobs require less dexterity, because the patient can simply push down on the handle to get the door open.
Floors: Eliminate uneven flooring. Thresholds may need to be adjusted in order to prevent the patient from slipping or tripping and falling. For patients in wheelchairs, uneven floors can be difficult to navigate. Whenever possible, choose non-skid flooring and remove rugs and long-pile carpeting.
Walkways: All walkways in the home should be clear of clutter, furniture, cord, and wiring. The patient should wear non-slip shoes, and use a walker for stability. Handrails should be secured and placed throughout the house, especially by stairways.
Making the Bathroom Safer for Stroke Patients
To make the bathroom safer for patients, it is a good idea to purchase handrails for the tub, shower, and toilet areas. The bottom of the bathtub should contain some kind of no-slip covering, and a bath bench should be used for bathing.
Other accommodations that may be more costly include the installation of special walk-in showers and tubs.
If you have questions about caring for your loved one after a stroke, speak with your relative’s physician and home health providers for tips and advice.