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
- 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.