Stairs safety after a stroke
In the best of all possible worlds, a stroke patient's home would all be on a single level, but you may very well have to deal with some stairs. Here are some general guidelines for making stairways as safe as possible.
If the patient can walk up and down stairs:
- Install handrails on each side of the stairway. Make sure the rails are attached to reinforced walls, the floor, or the ground.
- Make sure stairways are lighted so that the edges of each step can be clearly seen while going up and down. Reduce glare and shadows by using frosted light bulbs or globes over light fixtures. Install light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Periodically check steps to make sure treads or carpeting aren't worn. If the stairway is carpeted, make sure carpet is firmly attached to every step. Replace shag or deep pile carpeting, and avoid patterns or dark colors that might confuse the eye.
If the patient uses a walker or wheelchair:
- You'll need ramps for outside stairs. For detailed information about wheelchair ramps, visit newdisability.com.
- If you have a long stairway, consider installing a stair lift or platform lift. Although these devices are fairly expensive, they're probably cheaper than buying a house that's all on one floor. newdisability.com has detailed information about wheelchair lifts.
Since making the right home modifications can make a huge difference in the lives of both you and the person you're caring for, it may be helpful to consult an occupational therapist (OT). An OT can take stock of the patient's 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 house safer after a stroke: