Home modifications for stroke patients can help ease the transition back to everyday life.
The purpose of home modifications for stroke patients is to make life after stroke as easy and safe as possible so that patients can regain their independence, and caregivers can safely assist them.
They should help make activities of daily living like bathing, getting out of bed, eating, toileting, and grooming simple.
Home Modifications for Stroke Patients
These home modifications will be most useful for stroke patients experiencing impaired motor control, lack of balance, or poor memory.
1. Doorknob Extenders
If your doorknob doesn’t have a handle, consider doorknob extenders. They easily attach to your doorknob and create a lever so that you don’t need to twist it in order to open.
2. Tub Transfer Bench
Adding a tub transfer bench to your bathtub will make it easier for you to get in and out of the tub, whether you are walking or in a wheelchair.
This device prevents you from having to step over the tub wall, and it allows you to shower seated so that you don’t have to worry about slips and falls.
Try to find one with an attached bar on the side to hold onto for extra support when you reach for products like shampoo!
3. Rails/ Grab-bars
The purpose of rails and grab-bars is to help you stay balanced as you move from place to place.
You can install one by your toilet, in your shower, near your bed, near your seats, or by your stairs. Your occupational therapist can give you advice for best placement of the bars.
4. Shower Hoses
Shower hoses allow you to move the shower head around. This is very useful for those that have limited movement and need to sit while showering or bathing, and can also be helpful if a caregiver needs to assist you.
5. Non-slip Bath Mats
Non-skid bath mats help stabilize you so that you won’t fall on slippery bathtub floors. They have suction cups to keep them in place and a textured surface allows for better grip.
6. Night Lights
Ever wake up in the middle of the night and try to navigate yourself in the dark to get to the bathroom?
Turning on a bright light in the middle of the night makes it harder to fall back asleep, which is why many of us would rather risk bumping into a few things in the dark than turning on a light.
Stroke survivors should definitely not try to walk around in the dark because it increases their chances of falling.
Instead, set up red or orange night lights throughout your home to guide you to the bathroom. Red and orange light will not disrupt your internal clock the way white or blue light does.
7. Rug Grippers
Make sure that there’s some sort of grip on the bottom of your rugs and bathmats to prevent sliding. This is especially important if you use a walker to help you walk, as rugs can sometimes get caught in the wheels.
You can buy non-slip adhesives or pads that attach to the bottom of your rug and keep it in place.
8. Clear Walkways
Clear frequented walkways of items that could potentially get in your way like furniture, toys, and cords.
Stroke survivors that use wheelchairs will need clear, spacious walkways while those that ambulate (walk) will want to reduce the risk of tripping.
Consider getting rid of doorknobs with locks or at least get into the habit of not locking the doors inside your house. If you ever end up falling or need help, your caregiver won’t be able to reach you quickly.
10. Raised Toilet Seats or Bedside Commodes
Raised toilet seats will make it easier to get on and off the toilet for stroke survivors who have weakness in their legs. You can even find some that come with armrests that will help you stay balanced.
Bedside commodes allow you to use the toilet without having to travel far into the bathroom, but they can also be placed over the toilet once you are more mobile. Your Occupational Therapist should advise you on which type of toileting device (if any) is appropriate for you.
11. Soap Dispensers
Rather than using bar soap or squeeze tubes, try to get soap dispensers with pumps or electric soap dispensers.
It’s easier to press down on a soap dispenser than to grab a bar of soap (which can get slippery) and rub your hands together until it lathers up.
If you use a wheelchair, consider getting a portable ramp, which can be rented or purchased. They’re easy to set up when you need them and can fold for convenient storage.
Try to find one with anti-skid fabric so that there’s secure traction. Please consult with your physical therapist about an appropriate size and type of ramp for your home entrance.
13. Open Shelves
For stroke survivors with memory problems, try to place objects in plain sight and within reach so that they’re not difficult to find. For example, installing open shelves instead of cabinets allows everything to be visible instead of cabinets.
14. Closet Racks
Another good idea is to utilize a closet rack or rail and hang all your clothes instead of using drawers. Everything will be right in front of you and you won’t need to open up various drawers or mess up stacks of clothing to find what you want to wear.
15. Cord Covers
Loose cables and cords are major tripping hazards. Consider taping them down or find a cable cover that can be mounted onto your wall.
Things to Consider Before Adding Home Modifications for Stroke Patients
Before adding home modifications for stroke patients, ask yourself:
- Is there enough space? Can your wheelchair or walker fit?
- Will you remember where you put this?
- Can you reach this without straining?
- Is it too tiring to do this?
- How will you stay balanced?
It’s also a good idea to have your occupational therapist visit your home to point out what may need to be changed and the best ways to do it. If a home visit is not possible, you can also provide them with photos of your home to allow them to guide you.
Hopefully, these home modifications gave you some good ideas for making life after stroke more convenient and safe.