Prior to surgery, you should ensure that your home is safe for your return (i.e. no current home improvement projects underway). Please be aware that when you first return home you may not be able to move as much as you did before, and you will be taking medications that can affect your coordination and balance, so it is best to have your home prepared before returning from surgery and a room arranged where you will spend most of your time recovering.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of the following recommendations, please discuss them with your physician, nurse or therapist prior to surgery.
Below is a list of questions to ask yourself when preparing your home for a safe recovery.
General Home Safety
- Are there telephone or electrical cords across the floor?
- It is important to remove cords and area rugs from pathways to prevent tripping.
- Are your rooms cluttered?
Avoid too much furniture or objects such as throw rugs on the floor.
- Are your floors polished and slippery?
Use non-skid wax, and be sure to wear rubber- soled, non-slip shoes.
- Do you have pets?
If you have a dog that jumps on you or walks between your legs you may want to consider having a friend or family member watch your pet while you recover from your surgery. Cats and dogs can be a trip hazard, and larger dogs that jump may knock you off balance.
- Do you have a firm chair with a straight back and arm rests? Is the seat high enough to get on and off easily?
- Can you live on one floor or will you need to climb stairs daily to your bedroom or bathroom? Are there stairs inside and/or outside your home? Are there handrails that provide support when going up and down the stairs?
- Is there a non-skid mat or safety treads in your tub or shower?
Rubber bath mats help prevent falls.
- Do you have a tub or shower stool?
Sitting on a seat and using a hand-held shower head saves energy and improves safety during bathing, especially for people with movement restrictions.
- Are there grab bars on the edge of the tub or shower walls and next to the toilet?
Grab bats are not mandatory, but can be very helpful if you need additional support. Commercial grab bars that require drilling holes in the walls provide sturdy support. Some clamp-on styles are also available for the edge of the tub. Towel racks are not recommended for support, as they can easily be tom from the wall. Consult with your occupational therapist if bars are needed.
- Are your shelves so high or so low that they involve stretching, bending or twisting?
Reorganize the kitchen so that frequently used items are within easy reach. This could mean leaving pans on the stove or counter top, and placing a couple of glasses, dishes and mugs on the lower overhead shelf.
- Do you have a high stool or elevated chair available for use at the kitchen counter?
A high stool or elevated chair promotes safety for the person with balance difficulty and leg weakness while cooking at the stove or preparing foods at the counter.
- Do you have a utility cart for easy transport of dishes, utensils and food from the counter to the table?
A utility cart is helpful for people using both hands to walk with a cane, crutches or walker, or for those with balance problems. An apron with pockets for carrying items room to room can be helpful too.
- Is your bed at a good height to get in and out of bed easily?
A good height is approximately just above the bend of the knee to the mid-thigh region.
A sofa bed, futon or water bed is not recommended.