Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
How to Make Your Home Accessible
avatar
Richard C Senelick, MD posted:
An accessible environment is one that is structurally sound, safe, and barrier free for a stroke survivor who might have trouble walking, who is confined to a wheelchair, or who is weak or paralyzed on one side of his body.

A therapist from the rehabilitation facility may make a house call to determine what needs to be done; she can also offer suggestions based on your description of your home. But, here are some things that you can check and do yourself. These include the following:

  • Doorways should be at least thirty-two inches wide to allow wheelchair access. If this a problem in your home, molding, hinges, and even the door itself can be removed.
  • Keep electrical cords and telephone wires tucked away in corners so that they can't be tripped over.
  • Remove all throw rugs. They are the number-one cause of falls among the elderly.
  • Keep night-lights on in all rooms so that you and your loved one can move around more easily in the dark.
  • Before buying any equipment check with your therapists. Make sure that the devices that you want to purchase are necessary. Shop around for the best price. The Internet is a great way to comparison shop.
  • A ramp might be necessary if you have steps leading up to your front and back doors. The ramp should be one foot in length for every one inch in vertical rise.
  • Telephones should be easily reached; emergency telephone numbers should be written in large print and placed at each extension. Speed dialing on cell phones have made a huge difference in the last few years.
  • Counter heights in the kitchen might need to be adjusted or additional space built. Kitchen appliances, the washer and dryer, microwave ovens these, too, will need to be placed at an accessible level. Sometimes it is easiest to lower just one section that you will use.
  • Keep kitchen utensils, plates, silverware, and glasses in easy reach. Condiments and canned foods should be on the lowest shelf of cabinets that should be at arm height.
  • The bathroom might need modification to ease movement between toilet, bath, and wheelchair. Some of the equipment might include a shower chair, grab bars, a hand-held shower, and safety rails. Soap on a rope is convenient for showers.
  • If possible, use a downstairs room for the stroke survivor's bedroom. Keep a bell or buzzer nearby on the night table. Lifeline call systems that are worn around the neck for contacting 911 can usually be obtained through your local hospital.
  • Bed height and width will need to be checked. Transferring to and from the bed to the wheelchair must be comfortably and easily performed.
  • Rearrange furniture so that a wheelchair can easily maneuver around chairs, sofas, and tables. Remove deep pile carpeting.

WebMD also has some excellent references about home modification: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/home-modification-repair


Good Luck.
After your stroke you may be experiencing a new normal, but remember what George Eliot said- It is never too late to be what you might have been. You still can achieve new goals.
Reply


Featuring Experts

Richard C. Senelick M.D. is a physician specializing in both neurology and the subspecialty of neurorehabilitation. He did his undergraduate and medic...More

Helpful Tips

Assistance with Expensive MedicationsExpert
I have had many patients whose pocket book is stretched by taking many expensive medications. One of the most useful Internet sites is ... More
Was this Helpful?
10 of 16 found this helpful

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems to the
Food and Drug Administration

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.