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Avoiding Falls: Making Your Home Safe if You Have Limited Mobility

Easy Living Tips for the Living Room

Four minor adjustments can have a major impact in the living room: 

  • Rearrange the furniture. No matter how good the current arrangement looks, you won’t enjoy your living room if it means navigating an obstacle course every time you’re in it. Arrange the furniture around your needs: Move anything that makes it more difficult to get around. If you use a walker or wheelchair, allow extra room around furniture. Lower furniture pieces such as ottomans and coffee tables can be a special hazard, so make sure they are well out of the way. 
  • Make seating more comfortable. Chairs and sofas shouldn’t be so low that you have to drop into them or strain to get up. Simply adding a pillow for height can be a temporary solution. Better yet, buy some inexpensive risers to raise the seat under the legs. 
  • Take up the rugs. Carpeting and limited mobility don’t go well together. The best temporary solution for throw rugs is to roll them up and move them out of the way to prevent tripping. At the very least, make sure there is non-slip mat underneath a rug and that the rug lies flat, with no edges or corners sticking up. Use tape, if necessary, to keep them down. 
  • De-clutter. For smooth moving, get rid of clutter and make sure electric cords and telephone wires aren’t tripping hazards.

Keeping Balance in the Bedroom

Your bedroom is your sanctuary. To keep it that way: 

  • Make your bedroom easily accessible. Going up and down stairs can be exhausting -- and dangerous -- if you have impaired mobility or balance problems. Consider converting a room on the main floor of your home into a bedroom if your bedroom is upstairs. Then move your bath and grooming products to a downstairs bathroom. 
  • Make your bed comfortable. Extra pillows can help if joint pain makes it difficult to get comfortable in bed. If you have trouble getting in and out of a bed that is too low, put it on risers to make it easier.  If it’s still tough to get up, add a bedside grab rail. 
  • Keep essentials handy. Put drinking water, pills, a flashlight, a telephone, and important phone numbers on a nightstand -- on your side of the bed. If it might be necessary to summon help from a caregiver nearby in the house, keep a bell on the nightstand, too. Or buy an inexpensive wireless doorbell if the person is farther away. “Just knowing that it’s possible to get help in the middle of the night can be very reassuring,” Chase says. 
  • Be ready when nature calls at night. If you usually wake at night to use the bathroom, install a night-light or two to help you get there safely. If you’d rather not venture that far at night, it may be worthwhile to purchase a portable commode for your bedroom. An even more convenient and less expensive option for men is a plastic urinal -- an appropriately shaped container with a lid -- which can be used in bed. “A male urinal is a lot cleaner and nicer to use than using a bedside commode,” Chase says.  
  • Make dressing easier. Sitting in a sturdy armchair to dress and undress can be more stable than sitting on a bed or standing. And you can use the arms to steady yourself when you sit down, reach, or stand up. Use a long-handled shoehorn to put on shoes without bending over. A dressing stick – essentially a stick with a hook at the end – can help you pull on pants or skirts, take off socks, and reach clothes that are hung up high.

 

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