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In your home
    (Some items were rephrased from the origina document, personal comments/suggetions appear in italics)


Create an environment where you can be safe, independent and productive. Widen the doorways if possible, build ramps if necessary, lower light switches, and touch-sensitive lamps.  In addition, you can wound several rubber bands around the largest part of the doorknob which will make it easier to grasp. Plug all your computer "devices" into a single multiple outlet power strip, then you just have to press one switch to turn on/off your equipment. Place the power strip on the top of your desk for easy reach.

Tip...If your home needs some improvements to make it more accessible but you don't know ehere to start, ask your doctor to prescribe a professional evaluation by an Occupatinal Therapist. The OT will come to your home and give you suggestions that will truly make a difference in how you use your time and energy to accomplish simple everyday tasks.

Home Safety and Accessibility

A. Safety

People who use power-dependent equipment such as oxygen, environment control units, electric beds and lifts, and so forth should notify their local utility company before an emergency power outage occurs. Your doctor may be asked to fill out a form indicating your medical problem and the type of equipment that you use. In an emergency, the utility company will make every attempt to restore service as soon as possible. However, it still is your responsibility to have a backup power source. In addition, your local utility company will taf your meters so that when repairs, meter changes, or routine maintenance necessitate that the power be cut off, it will notify you ahead of time so you can make backup arrangements.

It is also important to let your local fire department know if you might have difficulties escaping from your home in the event of a fire. If you have family members living with you, practice a fire drill at home.Show children how the smoke detector works and what it sounds like. Encourage your children to sleep with their doors closed because doing so will buy them time if there is a fire by keeping the smoke and heat out of the room. Be sure to discuss how important it might be to run to a neighbor's house to get help and call the fire department, emphasizing that leaving the house to get help would not mean they are abandoning their pets or family members.

B. Lighting and Light Switches

Replace traditional light switches with rocker-panel switches that require less fine motor control. They can be turn on or off by pressing with an arm, elbow, etc. They are available lighted or unlighted.

A dimmer switch allows you to adjust the light in a room so that one person may work or read without disturbing others.

Wall switch extenders lower a light switch 13 to 15 inches below the actual switch,  which makes it easy to turn on and off from a wheelchair.

Lamps are easier to turn on and off if you install a lamp converter, which bypasses the on-off switch and makes the lamp "touch-sensitive",

C. Doorknobs, Doors, Doorways

Replace regular doorknobs with level handles or purchase a rubber level that fits over any standard doorknob. Or wrap several rubber bands around the largest part of the doorknob to increase its diameter.

If the bathroom doorway is too narrow to accommodate a scooter or wheelchair, remove the door. Replace it with a tension rod and an opaque (or black) shower curtain for privacy (inexpensive solution!)

If you need to get around your home in a wheelchair, widen doorways by 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch by carefully prying off the door jamb strip on one or both sides. Or you can install offset hinges to increase the door opening 2 to 3 incres, allowing the door to swing out and away from the doorway opening.

Keep door hinges well oiled. If a door scrapes along a rug, try planing it to make it open and close more easily. Another way to plane the bottom of a door is to pt a large piece of sandpaper on the floor under the door and then move the door back and forth a few times.

Make closing doors behind you easier using one of the following methods: (1) tie some string or cord around the doorknob. Grab hold of it as you move through the doorway, and the door will shut behing you as you pull the string. (2) Attach one cup hook to the door near the knob and a second cup hook to the door jamb on the hinge side. Tie a string or chain between the hooks and pull it as you go through. The door will close behind you.

Protect your doors from wheelchair scratches by installing a clear Lucite, chrome, or brass kick plate at their base.

D. Under Lock and Key

Admit visitors without having to unlock or open your exterior door by keeping an extra garage door opener in the house. When you want to let someone in the house, press the garage door opener from inside the house and let your guest in through the garage entrance.

Adaptive key device fit on your regular key and give better leverage to make turning keys easier.

E. Ramps, Railings, Stairs, and Grab Bars

Make your home easier to navigate by installing these devices.  Grab bars are of extreme importance in the bathroom (my own comment)

Before installing grab bars determine where they would be the most help. A space the width of a clenched fist should exist between the grab bar and the wall. Vinyl covered hand grab rails are better for grip and absorb less heat.

Install hand railings on both sides of a stairway. Basement stairs will be safer if you add abrasive rubber threads to each step.

Save steps and attract the attention of someone who is in the basement by turning the light swritch at the top of the stairs on and off a few times.  

F. Faucets and Sinks

Turning water on and off is easier if you have a single level arm to control the temperature and water pressure. Kitchen faucets generally have lnger levels than bathroom models.

If you have separate controls for hot and cold water, consider installing wrist blades. This are wide, wing type  handles that are operated by pushing with the forearm, wrist or heel of the hand.

G. The Bathroom

If you find the height of standard toilet sets to be a problem, purchase an adjustable portable toilet to increase the height 4 t 7 inches and make it easier to get on and off the toilet.  Purchase a tote bag so you can take the seat with you and safely use bathrooms away from home.

A wall mounted toilet set may be installed at a level that is convenient for you.

For easier, safer use of shower and bathtub consider these: (1) a shower caddy, a hanging basket that hooks over the shower head and keeps soap and shampoo off the floor, (2) decorative nonslip tape or decals in the tub or shower for improved traction, (3)  if you use a rubber mat, periodically toss it in the washing machine with soap and a little bleach to remove that slippery soap-film build up (4) purchase one of those inexpensive shower chairs (or an inexpensive hard plastic chair) and have a seat while you bathe, (5) install grab bars in the shower/bathtub. (6) Cover your actual metal nozzle with insulation material it will help you to grab better, in lieu of this wind several rubber bands around the hand portion of the nozzle, (7) apply petroleum jelly to the rod of the shower curtain, rub the excess with a paper towel if will slide more easily.

Improve your medicine chest and bathroom organization, (1) glue small magnets inside the medicine cabinet door to hold nail files, cuticle scissors, and other metal objects, (2) use a spice rack placed at eye level to hold medications or small articles that might easily be lost in a closet, (3) turntables on the counter or in the bathroom closets make items easy to retrieve, (4) reserve a drawer in the bathroom for clean undergarments.

Attach a soft sponge to a long kitchen wooden spoon, use glue or water resistant adhesive, it will allow you to wash your back and legs without assistance.

H. The Bedroom

To minimize the amount of walking involved, make one side of a bed completely, and then finish the other side.

You will be more comofortable in bed if you choose the right bedding and equipment for your needs. Always look for bed covers that provide warmth without weight.

If turning or changing positions in bed is difficult consider pushing the side of the bed up against the bedroom wall and installing a railing or grab bar on the wall. Anchor the railing to a stud and install it at the height that makes turning easier.

Keep a flaslight on your dresser by the entrance to your bedroom. Use it at night when you have turned off the light and need to illuminate your path to your bed. Then keep it on your nightstand so that it will be of use if you have to get out of bed during the night.

Organize bedroom closets for easy access, make top shelves and clothing rods low enought to reach without straining. Store in transparent plastic containers to cut down on your search time.

I.  Furniture and Rugs

The best type of chair to sit on generally has an armrest, a firm shallow seat, and a relatively straight back. Use furniture that is sturdy and stable.

Adjust the height of your furniture by removing casters or putting measured blocks of wood under each leg until the desired height is achieved.

Remove throw rugs. It will be easier to walk and to use a wheelchair.

J. Houseclening Details

Use adaptive equipment for dusters or brushes (extenders)

Sweep kitchen floor crumps into a pile, then wet a paper towel, wring it out, and use it to wipe up the crumps.

If in a wheelchair, prepare a basket of cleaning supplies, that way you will have everything at your hands.


K. Laundry

Place two  laundry basket in each room, ask family members to sort clothes out before placing them in basket. If family member can do their own washing/drying promote this, will increase your independence and theirs!

Collect clothes in one place and transfer them to the laundry area in a wheeled cart if possible.

If the laundry area is in the basement, plan to remain there until the laundry is done. Handg clothes promptly after they dry (male shirts and female blouse can be taken out a bit before they are completely dry and hung, this will save you from having to iron them!) to minimize need for ironing. Sit down when you iron to save energy.

When the laundry is dry, put it into individual laundry baskets labeled with each family members name. Teach young children to fold their laundry and then put it away.