Maximizing a stroke survivor's safety and comfort while dressing
For someone who's survived a stroke, the bedroom is his sanctuary. By setting up this room to maximize his independence, you can give him a sense of privacy and comfort -- while still making sure he's safe.
Aids for getting dressed:
- Make sure the stroke survivor can easily reach and pick out his clothing. You can replace dressers or chests of drawers with a storage unit that has open compartments. Organize the storage unit so the most frequently worn clothes are the easiest to reach. You can also lower the bar in his closet so he can reach items on hangers.
- Adapt his wardrobe to make it easier for him to dress himself. Choose loose-fitting pants with elastic waistbands and shirts that pull on easily or fasten in the front. Replace buttons and zippers with Velcro fasteners or snaps, and shoelaces with coiled elastic laces. (Find them online by searching for curly elastic shoe laces.)
- Dressing aids can be invaluable. You can find these through stores or websites that sell adaptive products.
- Zipper pulls fasten onto the end of a zipper to make it easier to pull up or down. You can tie a string in a loop on the end of a zipper, or buy a commercially available version. (Example)
- A button hook enables him to fasten buttons with one hand. (Example)
- A dressing stick has a hook on one end so he can pull items down from a closet and pull on clothing. (Example)
- A long-handled shoe horn makes it easier to slip on shoes. (Example)
Making the bedroom of a stroke survivor safer and more comfortable at night
For nighttime safety:
- Always keep a telephone within easy reach of his bed. You may also want to consider getting him a personal emergency response system (PERS). Available from many different service providers, an emergency response system allows a stroke survivor to immediately contact a monitoring service during an emergency.
- Make sure there's a clear pathway to the toilet. A nightlight will make it easier for him to avoid obstacles if he has to get up during the night.
For more comfortable sleep:
- To prevent pressure sores, make sure he doesn't lie in the same position for long periods of time. Use pillows to support his affected limbs. If pressure sores are a concern, you can also purchase a special mattress to reduce pressure. (Example)
- If he has a hard time getting to the bathroom during the night, you can keep a commode chair with grab bars and a removable bucket next to the bed. (Example)
- Accidents happen sometimes, especially at night. Just in case, you can place a washable or disposable absorbant pad between the mattress and fitted sheet. These "blue pads" are available from medical supply companies. (Example)
Since making the right home modifications can make a huge difference in the lives of both the stroke survivor and his caregivers, it may be helpful to consult an occupational therapist (OT). An OT can take stock of his specific disability and the current state of his home, then make suggestions based on his particular needs. The National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modifications has compiled a list of resources for consumers looking for products to modify their homes.
For more information about making a friend or relative's house safer after a stroke:
- Making Your Parent's House Safer After a Stroke
- Making Your Parent's Kitchen Safer After a Stroke
- Making Your Parent's Stairways Safer After a Stroke
- Making Your Parent's Bathroom Safer After a Stroke