Home Evaluation Key To Successful Return Home For Therapy Patients

by Sandra St. Peter, OTR/L, MediLodge of Yale Therapy Program Manager

MedilodgeofYale LifeTherapists assess an individual’s safety in an environmental aspect when appropriate in their home environment.  Life can bring unexpected changes like broken bones or diagnoses causing decreased balance, strength, coordination and cognition.  Ailments like this can leave residual difficulties, so making sure the individual’s home is set-up in the best way to compensate for the changes can improve the functional outcome and safety.

Simple changes can make a big impact like removing all rugs without a non-skid bottom, putting tennis balls or gliders on the rear legs of a rolling walker and putting up hand rails on stairs going into the home as well as any interior stairs.  Assessing whether the height of the individuals most frequently used area to sit is functional for them to get up and down without losing their balance.

As far as the bathroom environment; grab bars in the shower, a hand-held shower head, learning how to use a tub bench if you have a tub/shower combination and using a toilet riser or bed-side commode over the toilet.  Falls in the bathroom tend to happen at a high rate.  I encourage keeping the bathroom door open while showering to reduce the humidity.  This can attribute to increased shortness of breath and lightheadedness.

In the kitchen, moving frequently used items to the cupboards or counter top that you can reach and rarely used items to the hard to reach areas can reduce falls.  Using an attached walker basket, canvas bag or tray to the walker can help you transport items from one room to another while maintaining both hands on the walker for optimal safety.

Some individuals may benefit from one or two of these ideas.  However, others may need more substantial changes. Therapists want to know our residents are returning to their home environment to improve their quality of life, however doing so in the safest environment for the resident will increase the likelihood of maintaining a lifestyle of health and wellness.

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