Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease is life changing. Not only do you have to cope with the physical symptoms, but you need to consider how best to adapt your environment to suit your changing needs. As one of the most debilitating degenerative disorders, coping with a Parkinson’s diagnosis and the changes required can be a somewhat daunting prospect, but we’re here to help you with a brief guide on how to modify your home to suit someone with Parkinson’s Disease.
One of the main symptoms experienced by those with Parkinson’s is extreme fatigue. Simply getting around the home can be an exhausting task. While home assistance is readily available, a few adjustments to the home can reduce or even eliminate the need for outside help and help the person to regain a sense of independence, particularly in the early years following diagnosis.
Here are some basic considerations that will greatly help someone with Parkinson’s to navigate and exist in their home.
- Make sure that it’s easy to access a phone. Whether that’s a mobile phone or, in the case of some older sufferers who don’t want to use a mobile, a cordless phone, having a way to contact the outside world will make everyone feel much more comfortable. You may also want to consider having several handset around the house, to make taking and making calls more accessible.
- Programme all important phone numbers into the phone, or write the numbers on stickers and keep them close to the phone. Include family members, close neighbours, doctors and other numbers you feel are relevant.
- Ensure that all fire hazards, such as electric blankets or storage heaters are removed from the environment.
- Don’t forget smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. A must for any home, remember that they’re useless unless they’re working; so always check the batteries and the alarm at regular intervals.
- Always ensure that the furniture is well spaced out and easy to navigate. Keep a careful eye on trip hazards, and ensure that any storage cords are well out of the way.
- A comfortable chair that’s easy to get in and out of. You may also want to consider additional cushions and backrests.
In addition to providing basic equipment, there are many devices, appliances and adaptations that can make homes safer and more accessible. You may already have discussed some of these with an occupational therapist. However, here are some of the basic items that will make life easier for Parkinson’s sufferers.
- Grab or hold bars and rails
- Ramps for wheelchair access
- Reach devices
- Built-up utensils
- Sliding boards for getting in and out of wheelchairs
- Electric beds and mattresses
To further improve quality of life, a range of more advanced options are also available. While some of these need careful consideration before incorporating them into your home, they can make a considerable difference to the daily lives of people with Parkinson’s.
- A trapeze bar or pole can make getting in and out of bed much easier.
- Choose wireless or cordless apparatus and devices wherever possible to reduce to the risk of tripping over wires or cords. Consider sound or touch activated items, such as lamps. They’re becoming increasingly more affordable.
- Install grab bars and hand rails in appropriate places around the house, to reduce the chance of falls.
- Make the necessary adaptations to ensure that your bathroom is safe. Installing a wet room or a walk-in shower can help with mobility issues, and ensuring that the flooring is non-slip is essential no matter how mobile the users. Should you require any information on adapting your bathing areas, Walk In Showers and Bathrooms can help you to create a practical and stylish bathroom that will help people with Parkinson’s to feel more independent.
- If getting up and down stairs is difficult, a stairlift can help considerably. A modern stairlift can be used in even the smallest of places and can negotiate curves too. It may make all the difference between staying in your house and having to relocate to a house on one storey.
If you’d like to know more about adapting your home to meet the needs of someone with Parkinson’s Disease, you’ll find plenty of useful information on the Parkinson’s UK website.