After suffering a stroke, simple daily tasks can become incredibly difficult and seemingly impossible. Even with the help of a loved one, it can be frustrating to have to rely on someone for assistance. Whether your home is a house, apartment, retirement home, or assisted living facility, it is normal to desire some independence in your day-to-day life.
Although stroke affects each survivor differently, there are several things you can practice daily to make tasks easier on yourself and your loved ones. If your disability is moderate to severe, you may benefit from home visits from an occupational therapist.
Occupational therapists are trained professionals in helping disabled people regain skills after an incident. They will be able to reteach you simple tasks that you have lost, such as walking, picking up silverware, carrying things, whatever it may be. In addition, they can recommend certain changes around your living space to make it easier for you to complete certain tasks.
About 40% of stroke survivors suffer serious falls within the first year after stroke. Therefore, it is incredibly important that you have a strong and informed support system, along with a safely oriented home environment.
Changes Around The Home
If you require a wheelchair, walker, or cane, have someone help you move around some furniture to make it easier to walk around the house. Adjusting or adding lighting throughout the home can help you see better in not well-lit areas. Move electrical cords out of pathways and remove or fasten loose carpets to improve traction.
Consider stair glides, lifts, or handrails to help you go up the stairs if that is something you do often throughout the day. Some of these changes may be covered by your health insurance provider, so make a list and talk to an agent.
Tips For A Safe Bedroom:
The bedroom should be safe and comfortable, as this is where you spend about a third of your life! Have a light switch (or lamp) by your bed for visibility along with a phone in case of emergencies.
Move your items around to make them easier to access – especially things you use very often. This can involve lowering closet rods/shelves and replacing dresser handles that are easier to use.
Place a nightlight in the home to make it easier to access the bathroom at night. Consider using disposable pads under or over your sheets, if you experience incontinence.
Tips For Using The Bathroom:
Bathrooms are often tight places where accessibility can be an issue. If you have a hard time getting in and out of the shower or bathtub, consider installing handrails, bathtub benches, or non-slip flooring strips. Keep your bathing supplies in an easily reachable area, preferably all together to avoid having to reach in different places.
If toileting is difficult, consider installing a toilet chair, grab bars, and/or a raised toilet seat (to avoid bending down). Keep disposable underpants in case of incontinence emergencies and keep several pairs of clean clothing in the bathroom for the unexpected.
Tips For Getting Dressed:
Getting dressed after a stroke can be difficult if you are left with a decreased range of motion and uncoordinated muscle movements. Avoid tight-fitting armholes, pantlegs, and waistlines, as these are more difficult to put on the body.
Opt for clothes that fasten in the front, such as front-fastening shirts/blouses, bras, sweaters, and coats. If buttons and zippers are difficult to use, replace them with velcro fasteners. Check out adaptable clothing that is specifically made for disabled individuals.
Tips For Cleaning Up:
If you are unable to clean up after yourself, let your support system help you or hire a maid service once a week or biweekly. If you are limited in your abilities but are able to do some cleaning, the key is to work on small areas at a time and to take frequent breaks.
Choose one multipurpose cleaning solution or use disposable wipes/mopheads. Cleaning supplies that need to be cleaned and reused can be difficult to manage. Use a small, lightweight container for your cleaning supplies or even a wheeled cart to help you move them around the home.
Tips For Doing Laundry:
If your laundry machines are in an area that is hard to reach, ask someone to move them into a more accessible area. If you need to bend down to reach your washer/dryer, you can have someone place the machines on a sturdy table so they are at arm’s reach.
Make sure your detergents are easy-to-reach and labeled. Place a cart next to the machines at the right height for you to fold clothes and wheel them to your closet. Ironing boards that fold down from the wall are useful as well.
These changes can make life at home more bearable, increase your independence, and improve your quality of life. Talk to your support system about implementing some of these changes in your home!