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Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

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Modifying Your Home When You Have MS

If you have multiple sclerosis, you may need to make changes to your home to make it more comfortable and accessible.

Talk Sense

Install an intercom system to make room-to-room communication easier.

In the Bathroom

  • "Showering is tiring, plus soap and water make it easy to slip," says Wechsler. To make it safer, install a steady seat or bench in the stall and use a hand-held shower nozzle. Roll-in showers exist for people in wheelchairs.
  • For showering, it's best to replace glass doors with a shower curtain and install grab bars. "But grab bars must be professionally installed," Wechsler tells WebMD. "They need to be screwed into wall studs to be safe." In addition, have an occupational therapist advise you on the best placement for them. Mechanized tub seats are available for people needing extra help getting in and out.

  • Sinks should have long, lever-type faucet handles. Insulate any pipes to avoid bumps and burns.

  • A standard toilet can be made more comfortable by installing a raised toilet seat with handles.

In the Kitchen

  • Use a refrigerator/freezer with side-by-side doors.
  • If possible, install a wall-mounted oven; other oven modifications include side-hinged doors and stove dials that face front.

  • Remove cabinets under the sink and under a portion of countertop to create a food-prep space where you can be seated (again, be sure to insulate any pipes). Use slide-out shelves, lazy Susans, and drawers for easy access to food and dishes.

  • Use electric jar and can openers and a food processor. "You're given a certain budget of energy every day," says Wechlser. "Why expend that energy on kitchen grunt work when you could use it to go out and see a movie instead?"

In the Home Office

  • Computer screens should be at least 17 inches wide if eyesight is compromised. Some computer programs allow you to alter the amount of force needed to tap the keys.
  • Desks can be raised using blocks or leg extensions (found in adaptive-device catalogues).

In the Living Room

  • Use remote-control blinds.
  • Carry a cell phone or cordless phone; hands-free headsets are also very convenient.

  • Avoid chairs and sofas that allow you to sink into them or that have slanted backs; the ideal height for seating surfaces is between 19-20 inches.

In the Bedroom

  • Install bedside rails to make getting in and out easier, or purchase a hospital bed for maximum maneuverability.
  • Lower closet rails if you need to reach clothes from a scooter or wheelchair.

  • Letts recommends touch-sensitive bedside lamps if manipulating switches is hard.

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