Parkinson’s Disease presents itself differently in each individual. It is a chronic disease which creates motor movement disorders that make various life activities difficult. Parkinson’s Disease can affect mobility, trigger tripping or freezing episodes which can lead to sudden loss of balance and falls. The patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease need certain changes in personal, social and public lifestyle for safety concerns.
Creating a safer home environment and following these safety tips can avoid potential hazards and also help you take better care of yourself:
Home Safety Tips for Parkinson’s Disease
To increase home safety, first you should get an occupational therapist safety assessment done for your entire home. This will help find out all the potential hazards and work better on improving home safety.
General house tips
- All floors should be stable, non-squeaky and with non-skid surfaces. Rug mats can be beneficial to cover the entire floor from end to end. Make sure that any surface that you choose does not have excessive patterns which may trigger confusion.
- Make sure that all the furniture in your house is sturdy and non-shaky. The edges of the furniture surfaces should not be sharp or swivel. Check whether the chairs and the couches have firm handles that are strong enough to bear your wait and provide support.
- The lighting throughout the house needs to be clear and spread wide to avoid any dark or dull spots. Adjust window blinds and curtains to minimize glare and install automatic curtain or blind raisers.
- The gap between two floor objects like a chair and table should be enough to let you pass without adjustment. Walking paths should be wide to allow easy access and give room to use a walker or wheelchair whenever required.
- The electrical, computer and phone cords should be out of the way to prevent tripping and fall risk. Wires and connecting cords can be installed inside the walls with the help of an electrician.
- Make sure that the stairs are firmly built without sharp corners or slippery surface. Install railings on both sides of the stairs for better access while climbing up and down. Safety railings are beneficial to block sudden falls.
- Install safety devices like fire and smoke alarms, emergency lighting in all rooms including the bathroom and balcony and always keep their batteries fully charged.
- Parkinson’s Disease patients should prevent usage of stairs and try to accommodate a lifestyle without their need. But if they do not have an option to do so, the below tips can help stay safer and get easy access.
- Ensure that the stairways are well light and have switches both on the above and lower level of the floor. Automatic motion lights can also be installed in the stairways for enhanced safety.
- Each step’s corner should be taped with bright colors to indicate the edges. The floor finishing of the steps should be non-slippery and have good grip. Stairway mats are beneficial to provide extra grip for safety.
- Install hand rails on both sides of the stairs. A ramp can be built on the side of the stairs in case you use a wheelchair. Emergency phone should be available on all floors of the stairway in case of an emergency.
- Mobile phones and landline devices customized for the elderly and physically challenged are available at affordable price. The features include providing emergency helpline, easy handling and durable body.
- Patients should always keep caregivers and emergency helpline numbers on speed dial for quick contact when required or in case of an emergency. A list of important phone numbers should be physically pasted near the landlines in big and clear fonts.Keep a diary with all priority contacts and addresses of your caregivers as well as the prescribed medicines list.
- Always keep a handy flashlight and first aid kit in your purse or bag. A spare box of medicines should be kept in your bags for emergency use.
Walking and movement
- Prevent walking over visual lines as they can trigger imbalance and falls. Use laser lights to help overcome freezing.
- Never turn around swiftly. Always turn slowly and take a slightly curved path. Use walking aids when necessary and always keep them in reach.
- Always keep one hand free while walking to be able to grab any support in case of an emergency. Use shoes with extra grip to prevent slipping and enhance stability while walking. Try to avoid heeled shoes and slippers.
- Do not keep weight on one side of your body. It can cause sudden imbalance. Always distribute the weight either with the use of a dual shoulder bag or dividing objects evenly in your pockets.
- Raise the height of the bed till your feet touch the ground while seated at bedside. Attach bedside railings or bars to help you in rolling and getting up.
- Get double lighting options in your bedroom to have clear vision both in daytime and nighttime lighting. Install multiple switches on point of entry of the room and alongside bed in proximity. Always keep an emergency phone near the bed in easy reach.
- You can install bedside urinals or commode for emergency and nighttime use.
- Adjust the height of clothing rods and cupboards for easy access. Make sure that the wardrobe shelves have adjustable height to prevent the need of stooping or bending.
- Use comforters instead of top sheets to prevent slipping. Avoid flannel nightwear and sheets which may cause discomfort. Use softer fabric in the middle of the bed for rolling over easy.
- Keep the floor unwaxed and use anti-slippery cleaners. Prevent accumulation of debris on the floor and keep the floor dry as much as possible. Make sure the drainage system is well maintained. Ensure that the floor is balanced and water does not accumulate anywhere.
- Get elevated seats with railings on the side to make getting up and down the commode easy and safer. Install grab bars and rods with good grip all around the toilet and bathroom walls for better support and blocking falls in emergency.
- Add backrest to the toilet seats or bathtubs for safety. Put a seating arrangement with the mirror and wash basin according to the seating height to make tasks like brushing teeth and washing face easy and safer.
- Place multiple switches in the bathroom if the area is more than of single reach. Install light switches outside the toilet and bathroom to prevent walking in dark.
- Managing kitchen tasks is one of the toughest ones for Parkinson’s Disease patients. It is recommended that the caregivers stay in proximity while the patient performs any kitchen tasks.
- Install cabinet handles instead of knobs for easy handling. Make sure that the handles are non-slippery and provide good grip. Replace the normal sink faucets with single faucets with multi-directional functioning to have easier control turning them on and off.
- Prioritize your cooking needs and place the commonly used items in reach of hand. Use extended reacher sticks to access higher cabinets. Do not close the lids too tightly as opening them may lead to imbalance and falls.
- Always keep dustbins and dump bags in reach to prevent clutter on the floor. Keep the potentially hazardous equipment like knives in protected covering before and after use.
- Install a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and on the dinner table for emergency use.
Standing Up and Postures
- Always use the nose over toes technique to get up from sitting position. First, get to the edge of your seat and lean forward placing your nose over toes. Then, make a fist to push against the handle of the chair or couch to get support while getting up. Always wait a few seconds before starting to walk.
- Prefer stretching your muscles and body before lifting any heavy object. Try to keep your posture straight with the help of sit-right chairs and back rests. Posture belts can also be used to keep the back posture straight and prevent muscle cramps.
Dealing with Parkinson’s Disease is much easier when you follow the adequate safety tips. Apart from the medication and therapies, personal care helps treat the symptoms and have a better lifestyle.
Disclaimer – The above statements are for informational purpose only. Please take advice of a trained medical professional before acting on any of the above statements.