By Cindy Tulimeri and Karen DeRosas
Your bedroom serves many functions such as sleeping and dressing.
During the day your bedroom may seem perfectly safe. But in the dark of night, when fatigue sets in, the bedroom can be a dangerous place. So, the space should be made safe all times of the day.
Consider the height of the bed. Is it too high or too low? Do your feet hit the ground when you are sitting? If you require a step stool, then it is time to lower your bed. Removing the box spring can do this. In an older style bed, it is sometimes necessary to place a piece of plywood under the mattress for a solid base. When your bed is low, it is more difficult to stand, making the process susceptible to falls. Placing furniture risers under each leg of the bed is a simple solution. These can be found in most stores selling bed and bath items.
Frequent urination at night and/or urgency is a common complaint as one ages. Multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night — especially if you need to get there quickly — can be hazardous if you are not prepared. Quick position changes can alter your blood pressure, making you unsteady on your feet. Take a few seconds in each position when going from lying down to sitting and standing. Install a bed rail to help with getting in and out of bed.
Lighting is a key component to staying safe. Unfortunately, people think that they know their home and they may not need additional lighting. Unexpected items in the pathway or leg of a chair could have been avoided if you had adequate lighting. Motion- sensor night lights are now available at large department and hardware stores. The nightlights should light the path to the bathroom at night. They turn on automatically as you walk. Other options include easy to reach lights on the bed side table or leaving lights on at night.
Closets and drawers should be organized with your frequently used items at easy to reach places. Less frequently used items should be stored in areas that someone could assist you with reaching.
Using organizing items such as over the door shoe racks and hooks can be helpful to keep items at an easy to reach height. Depending on your height and ability, closet racks can be lowered, which can be particularly helpful to those using wheelchairs or who have shoulder limitations. A chair that is at least 18 inches off the ground and has arms should be placed in the bedroom. Sit as much as possible to prevent falls when dressing.
An occupational or physical therapist can create an individualized plan to keep you in your home forever.
Cindy Tulimeri is a Certified Occupational Therapist and Karen DeRosas has her masters in Physical Therapy. Both have an Executive Certificate for Home Modifications through the University of Southern California. As the founders of Independent Living Innovations, they have extensive experience working with elders and adults with disabilities. They can be reached at www.iliseniorservices.com, by calling 617-877-4036 or 978-866-8782 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.