You often hear people with Parkinson’s say that things get easier once the initial shock of the diagnosis wears off. While no two people have the exact same experience or symptoms, the one thing that they do have in common is the desire to be able to continue living well. Over time, Parkinson’s can lead to difficulties with balance and walking making safety a concern for you and your loved ones. The following tips can help make day-to-day activities easier and safer.
In the Bathroom
According to the National Parkinson Foundation, most falls happen in the bathroom as the result of slipping, poor lighting, and getting on and off the toilet and in and out of the tub. To make your bathroom safer and easier to maneuver, try the following:
- Install a grab bar in the shower and another near the toilet to hold on to for support. Never use towel bars or faucets for support since these could break.
- Bath benches and shower stools make bathing and showering easier and can be used to sit on when using the sink when a dizzy spell strikes.
- An elevated toilet seat provides the extra height needed to make sitting down and getting up easier.
- Handheld showers make it easier to bathe, especially if you prefer to sit while doing so.
- Adjusting your hot water temperature to less than 120 degrees lowers the risk of burns while washing.
- Opt for pump soap instead of bar soap since bar soap tends to be slippery and leave a slippery film on tub and shower surfaces.
In the Kitchen
- Install hooks to keep the pots and pans that you use the most within easy reach. Other items you use often when cooking can also be kept closer to the stove so you can cook with ease, like pot holders and spices.
- Install longer cabinet and drawer handles; they’re easier to open than small handles and knobs.
- Look for cooking utensils and gadgets that can make cooking safer, such as rubber grippers for opening jars and knives with a rounded blade and wooden handle that runs the length of the top of the knife for easy chopping.
- Keep your kitchen floor clean and clear of anything that can cause you to trip. Any mats should be rubber backed.
In the Bedroom
- Cute as some of those big and fuzzy slippers can be; choosing a pair of anti-slip slipper socks or a more streamlined closed shoe-type slipper with an anti-slip bottom makes walking around on different surfaces easier and much safer.
- Keep a flashlight next to the bed in case of a power outage and have lamps and light switches close to the bed.
- Have your bedroom on the first floor of a home if possible to avoid having to use the stairs at night.
- A bedside commode or urinal can keep you from having to make trips to the bathroom in the dark. This is especially great if your washroom is on another floor than your bedroom.
In the Rest of the House or While Away
There are a few other things that you can do to help make your home—and any other home away from home that you stay in—a lot safer and easier to enjoy. Nightlights, which you can find at the dollar store in multiple styles, are great to keep in hallways, bathrooms, and the bedroom, as well as to take with you when you travel or stay with family. At home, avoid mats and rugs that can slide or roll up in any room of the house, especially in bathrooms, and request the same if staying somewhere else. Finally, a cordless phone allows you to carry the phone around the house with you and if the range allows, even take with you out onto the porch or yard in case you need to call for assistance or just don’t want to walk across the house to answer it when someone calls.
Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals for Healthline, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board. You can connect with Adrienne on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/writeradrienne.
- Living Well. National Parkinson Foundation. Retrieved July 17, 2014 from http://parkinson.org/living-with-parkinsons
- Suzman, Ivan. (2005). Parkinson’s Safety Begins at Home. Parkinson’s Disease Foundation. Retrieved July 17, 2014 from http://parkinson.org/living-with-parkinsons