One of the biggest challenges for the nearly one million individuals living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in this country is the unpredictable nature of the disorder. Nearly 85 percent of sufferers have a relapsing-remitting form of MS. They struggle with uncertainty in daily living because problems with mobility and vision often times wax and wane.
As MS progresses, affected individuals often need additional adaptations to their living space. While some people with MS need added features for stability while walking, others require modifications that assure wheelchair accessibility. Consulting a contractor prior to planning a major renovation is often wise move, since major renovations typically require teamwork.
The good news is that patients and their families can undertake a number of simple home improvements that will boost home safety and comfort. Consider these eight easy fixes:
Excess items in a home translate into navigation hazards. In addition to removing items not used often, this is the perfect time to find easy-access spots for objects used frequently. It's also important to maximize the number of clear surfaces that help an individual balance.
The easiest navigation occurs on thinner flooring such as hardwood, tile, or relatively thin carpeting. If it’s impossible to part with a rug, adding non-slip padding plus tape is helpful.
Put Furniture to Work
This is a great opportunity to give rooms an updated look by rearranging furniture. Pieces such as sofas, dining tables, and dressers can assume double duty by offering walking assistance, provided they won’t move.
Solve Door Dilemmas
It’s hard to enter and exit rooms with round doorknobs. Updating doors with handles that are levers or substituting touch controls for knobs can improve access.
Create Visual Contrast
MS creates vision problems that sometimes make it difficult to move around with confidence. Using contrasting light and dark colors throughout a home can aid navigation. One example is using a dark-colored switch plate on a wall painted a light color.
Move Up a Level
Raising beds and chairs makes it much easier to rise from them. Many stores sell high-top chairs and dining tables. Blocks can serve as bed risers. It’s even possible to buy an elevated toiletseat.
Remote controls turn a residence into a smart home. It’s possible to manage room temperature, turn appliances on and off, and control a number of other functions with devices that eliminate the need to walk from one area to another.
Revamp to Unwind
Now is the time to eliminate features that foster stress. It might be wise to say goodbye to that annoying mattress or uncomfortable sofa and create a living space where it’s easy to unwind.
Major home modifications are necessary to make life much safer and more accessible for some individuals with MS. Many projects require professional expertise and take a significant amount of time to complete.
These areas of a residence often undergo significant renovations to accommodate MS symptoms:
The most common modifications include covered entrances, ramps or other step-free access, and widened hallways and doorways.
A raised toilet, a low or no-threshold shower, and a shower chair all help with navigation. Faucets operated with levers and grab bars outside the tub and shower also make life easier.
A number of kitchen modifications are wheelchair-friendly: lowered counters, added space under counter tops, raised dishwashers, and ranges that feature front controls. Side-by-size refrigerators and front-loading appliances are also particularly helpful for those with MS.
Consider installing light switches and thermostats at levels lower than normal and raising electrical sockets throughout the home. This is also a good time to consider moving to rocker-style light switches.
Do you think you could profit from professional advice on how to make a home safer and more convenient for someone with MS? Be sure to contact a Multiple Sclerosis specialist and ask for recommendations that can improve the lives of individuals suffering from this life altering disease.
Gary Ashton is the CEO and owner of The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage. His real estate team is #1 in Tennessee, Nashville and now #4 in the world.
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