People of any age can have trouble getting around the house – a teenager recovering from a sports injury, a baby boomer in rehab from a heart attack or surgery, an elderly person with arthritis or balance problems. Whether your limited mobility is temporary or permanent, there are many things you can do to make your home safer and your life easier.
Modifying your home can be as simple as rearranging some furniture or putting in a few handrails in strategic locations. This room-by-room guide focuses on simple solutions to creating a safe haven. But it also includes more substantial measures that can be worthwhile if you have long-term mobility issues.
By Meryl Davids Landau
When you were in your 20s and 30s, you probably ignored random aches or other minor physical annoyances, and they usually went away. But now those symptoms can come back — often with a different cause, and calling for more serious attention.
Building entrances can be safety hazards, especially in bad weather. And when it’s difficult to get around, even a step or two can seem like a mountain. Make sure the path from the street to your front door is well lit and clear of objects.
If you have stairs, make sure there’s a sturdy handrail -- on both sides, if that helps. “Adding a second banister on the other side can make a huge difference, especially if one side of the body is more impaired than the other,” says Carla A. Chase, EdD, assistant professor of occupational therapy at the Western Michigan University College of Health and Human Services in Kalamazoo.
Even if there’s just one step that is difficult to negotiate at the front door, consider installing a grab bar. You can also rent a ramp for walkers and wheelchairs if you need a temporary solution.