You are on page 1of 15

Parkinsons Disease: Home Safety

As Parkinsons disease progresses, home safety will be an increasing concern. This page includes
tips that can help make your daily life safer and easier. Your doctor may also recommend a
therapist to advise you on the best ways to set up your home.

Setting up living spaces


Get help from family and friends to make these changes:

Keep walkways open and free of clutter. Move phone and electrical cords out of the way.
Remove throw rugs to prevent trips.

Get a cordless or speaker phone. Program numbers for family and emergency services.

Make sure rooms are well lit. Install nightlights along walkways.

If freezing at doorways is a problem, consider placing lines of tape on the floor


between rooms. Stepping over the tape may prompt you to keep moving.

Setting up the bathroom


Use the tips below to make changes to your bathroom. Medicare or insurance may help cover the
costs of some of these items, depending on your particular needs and plan.

Preventing falls
Parkinsons symptoms make falls more likely. Safety improvements around the house can help.
But if you begin having frequent falls, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend physical
therapy. This helps you learn the safest ways to move around. If needed, your therapist may also
teach you how to use a cane or walker. Consider buying a life line so that if you do fall while
you are alone, you'll have a way to get help.

Parkinsons can affect your mobility as well as memory and thinking skills. For example, you
might have tripping episodes or experience freezing that can lead to sudden loss of balance and
falls. However, it can be hard to recognize changes that are happening to your own mind and
body as a result of the disease. While each person experiences Parkinsons differently, it is
important to know that even familiar tasks can become difficult or unsafe.
On this page, we explore ways to create a safer home environment and lower the risk of falls and
injury. You also might want to ask your doctor for a Home Safety Evaluation. An occupational
therapist will come to your home and provide tips to make your home safer.
Home Safety Tour Checklist

Use the Home Safety Considerations checklist (PDF) to ensure that your home is safe and easily
accessible.
Throughout the House

Floors are stable, non-skid surfaces without excessive patterns.

All furniture is secure, sturdy and does not swivel.

Chairs are stable, have arm rests and adequate seat height to make standing
up easier.

There is good lighting throughout the home, with no dark or shadowy areas,
and blinds/shades are adjusted to minimize glare.

Walking paths are wide, allowing easy access and use of a walker or
wheelchair if needed.

Electrical/phone/computer cords do not pose a tripping/falls risk when


walking and moving about.

Stairs are in good shape, have railings and can be blocked for safety if
needed.

Dining area can be easily accessed.

Smoke alarms are installed in all rooms (especially bedroom and kitchen),
with fully charged batteries.

TO DO

Remove through rugs/scatter rugs.

Remove clutter to decrease risk of tripping and falls.

Bedroom

Environment is quiet and relaxing.

Bed height allows feet to touch floor when seated at bedside.

Half side rail or bed pole is in place to help with rolling and getting up.

Lighting is easily accessible, so you do not need to walk around the room in
the dark.
o

Lamps are where they can be easily turned on and off.

A nightlight is on the path and bright enough to fully light the way to
the bathroom.

A flashlight is by your bedside in case of a power outage.

A bedside commode/urinal is available for nighttime use if needed.

Clothing rods are at a height that is easy to reach, the closet is well-lit and
clothes are in dressers that will allow access without stooping or bending.

Carpets and rugs are smooth to create a safe walking surface and minimize
falls.

A telephone and clock are by the bedside, so you do not have to get out of
bed to find them, especially during the night.

TO DO

Place slippery fabric or a draw sheet on the middle third of the bed to make
rolling easier.

Remove the top sheet; instead, use a lightweight comforter.

Avoid flannel sheets and nightwear.

Bathroom

Most falls take place in the bathroom because of difficulty getting on and off the toilet and in and
out of the tub; difficulty seeing due to poor lighting; slipping on wet surfaces; tripping on throw
rugs; or getting dizzy while standing from the toilet to the sink. Make sure the following safety
measures are in place, and check the Bathroom page for more details.

Grab bars are installed near the toilet, tub and shower: no location should
require use of towel racks, faucets or soap dishes as grab bars.

Toilet has an elevated seat and arm rests or grab bar within easy reach.

Tub/shower has a sturdy bench with back support for bathing/shower safety.

Seating is available if needed when performing tasks like brushing teeth,


shaving, etc.

A light switch is near the door to prevent you from walking into a dark area.

Floors are unwaxed and free of debris.

Kitchen

Cooking is often a multi-step process, and a person with Parkinsons may have difficulty
managing kitchen tasks safely. Balance changes can make opening refrigerator and oven doors
harder, and falls can occur when trying to reach high shelves or carry objects from counter to
table. Try these tips to use your kitchen in a safe, manageable way.

Cabinet handles are installed (rather than knobs) to make it easier to open
and close cupboard doors.

Commonly used items are in easily accessible drawers to avoid the need to
reach or bend over too far to find them.

Items used for cooking (such as spices, pots and pans) are near the stove to
avoid reaching over the stove, which may cause burns.

The sink has a single handle faucet, which is easier to control and turn on and
off.

TO DO

Use a long-handed reacher for lightweight items on high shelves.

Stairway

There is adequate lighting on steps.

Steps are non-skid surfaces.

Handrails are installed on at least one side of the steps. Handrails two to
three inches from the wall permit good grasp.

If you cannot use a walker, cane or mobility aid on the steps, make sure you
have two: keep one at the bottom of the stairs and one at the top of the
stairs.

When possible, a ramp is installed over the steps if you cannot safely climb
steps.

TO DO

Keep steps clutter free.

Put brightly colored tape on the top and bottom steps to signal the beginning
and end of the steps.

General Safety

Use of power tools


Tremor combined with balance and coordination changes can impact safe use of power tools,
even if you have used them for a long time. Slowed reaction time can also lead to safety
concerns. Consider all these factors when deciding if using power tools is safe for you.
Climbing
Reductions in balance skills and protective reflexes increase falls risk in people with PD. Avoid
trying to climb on ladders, step stools or other apparatus.

Adapting the Bathroom for a Parkinsons Patient

If you are taking care of a person who was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease, there are many
hazards to beware of in the bathroom. But with foresight and planning, it is quite easy to prevent
problems for the patient.
It can of course be difficult for the patient to recognize and accept that he has limits to what he
can do by himself in the bathroom. But it is important to be both honest and open with your
loved one so that he can have more independence in the bathroom.
Bathroom Safety Tips
One of the first things to think about is you will of course want to install grab bars as needed near
toilets, sinks and in the shower. But there are other aspects of the bathroom that could cause
difficulty that could escape you. Some people, for instance, who have Parkinsons will have
difficulty turning a regular doorknob. That is where installing door pulls and utility handles in
the home and in the bathroom can make things easier.
Another thing to keep in mind in the bathroom is to be careful of any sharp edges. We
recommend that you cover counter top edges that are sharp with towels and other cushioning.
And, you should take the bathroom locks off the doors so that the patient cannot lock himself in.
Every bathroom in the house also should have Ground Fault Interrupted (GFI) electrical outlets
installed. These devices will shut off the power to the outlet if there is a power surge, such as
when an electric appliance is exposed to water. They also will shut off if the persons feet or
hands are wet if they touch any electrical appliance.

Some caregivers prefer to switch out glass shower doors with doors made of plastic, or a plastic
shower curtain. Of course, you should have no-skid bath mats in the tub/shower and in front of it
to minimize any chance of falls.
In the later stages of the disease, it is a good idea to use tape or paint to color the faucets red or
blue to designate the hot and cold knobs.

People who have Parkinsons also can have problems grasping small objects. That is why we
suggest that the soap is tied into a sock or a stocking, and then tied to the grab bar in the bath
tub/shower, such as the Easy Grip Adjustable Tub Grab Bar. Also, you should have to toilet
paper and tissues in easy reach of the patient.
The patient also may have difficulty standing for long periods in the shower. That is why it is so
important to have a good, solid shower seat installed in the shower. We recommend the
SerenaSeat Foldable 26 Inch Shower Seat (see above image).
The above bathroom modifications and Parkinsons products will go far to helping the patient be
more independent and safe in the bathroom.

Adapting Your Bedroom for Parkinsons Disease

Physical effects from Parkinsons disease usually involve fatigue and difficulty in moving the
arms and legs. These problems can make many of the activities of living on your own more
difficult. It is important then for you to follow some important tips and guidelines so that you can
better function independently in your home.
Tips to Adapt Your Home and Bedroom

Give yourself a lot of room to move around your living room and bedroom.
Put furniture in places so that there is plenty of space between pieces.

If you can, try to arrange your furniture so that outlets can be reached
without extension cords. If you must use extension cords, they should be
secured with tape.

Try to buy chairs with armrests, straight backs and firm seats. This makes
getting up and sitting down a lot easier.

Install sturdy handrails in the bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom
when there is nothing to hold onto.

If getting out of bed is hard, you should try to sleep in a chair that reclines.

Take out any furniture out of your bedroom that is not necessary. This will
make it easier for you to get around, especially in the dark.

It is a good idea to increase lighting in various parts of the house, including


the bathroom and bedroom.

Purchase nightlights that activate by motion for your bedroom. That way
when you get up to go to the restroom, you will be able to see.

Make your bed with satin or silk sheets so that turning over in bed is easier
for you.

Buy Bedroom Parkinsons Aids for Better Sleep


Your sleeping experience with Parkinsons disease will be much better if you have the proper
Parkinsons supplies. Some of the equipment and products you should consider include these:

Standers 30 Inch Safety Bed Rail: This product is effective as a side rail on the
bed to prevent nasty falls. It also is a great support system for helping you to
get out of bed. The rail will pivot down the side of the bed so that you can get
out of bed with ease.

Posey Bed Cradle: This great product will help to hold your sheet and blankets
up so that you will not suffer from foot drop when you sleep. It includes a very
sturdy steel frame that will clamp to the mattress to keep it from shifting
during sleep.

Healthcraft Superpole System: This is an award-winning support system that


is made for people with Alzheimers or Parkinsons who need help to stand up
from a seated position. It is a floor to ceiling grab bar that can be easily
installed in just minutes.

Adapting Your Home


Make your home safe when you live with Parkinson's

It's important for everyone to feel comfortable and secure in his or her own home, especially for
those
experiencing the challenges of Parkinson's disease. That's why it can be helpful to look over your
home to make sure it's a safe living space for you and your family members.
Whether it's you or your family member living with Parkinson's, the goal is to make your home
as safe
and secure as possible for all. Remember to put yourself in their shoes.
Throughout the house

Remove clutter and sharp edges throughout the house in case of falls.

Remove throw rugs that could slip.

Make sure pathways and walkways are free of clutter including cords and
throw rugs.

Add nonskid surfaces to all steps.

Keep medications and healthcare supplies in easy-to-find, colorful storage


containers.

Make sure you have working smoke alarms and check the batteries monthly.

In the bath

Consider a bath bench or shower stool.

Use an elevated toilet seat.

Add a grab bar to the wall of a tub or shower and another next to the toilet.

Add nonskid decals to the bath or shower floor.

Place nightlights in the bathroom and in the bedroom path to the bathroom.

Basic tips

Keep emergency numbers near all telephones.

Keep a notebook of all medications and daily routines.

Consider working with a social worker or geriatric case manager.

Wherever possible, add handrails and grab bars to the home.

Use chairs with straight backs and arms reststhis will help in getting
up out of a chair and in sitting down.

Avoid using extension cords that can create tripping hazards.

Lastly, creating a safe home for you or your loved one with Parkinson's disease does not have to
be
overwhelming. Remember to take it one room at a time. It can also be a great opportunity to help
educate family members about the challenges of Parkinson's disease by making it a family
project
and having everyone take a task to help.

Related Interests