Helpful Home Adaptations

Many adaptations can be made to the home to make it easier for a person living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) to get around and maintain their daily activities. One of the best resources for assessing and making recommendations for home adaptations is an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists are licensed healthcare professionals that are focused on enabling their patients to engage in daily activities as seamlessly as possible. One of the ways occupational therapists do this is through suggesting adaptations or modifications to the person’s environment.1

Home adaptations for people with PD range from small changes to major building changes requiring construction. Adaptations to the home may include:

  • Adding rails to doorways or stairs
  • Creating half steps to make large steps smaller
  • Installing ramps
  • Widening doorways
  • Removing or leveling threshold strips between rooms
  • Adding stair lifts
  • Replacing a bath with a walk-in shower
  • Installing a tub transfer bench
  • Adding shower chairs
  • Mounting bars or handrails in tubs, showers or near the toilet
  • Placing non-skid rubber bath mats in showers or tubs
  • Installing a raised toilet seat or commode frame
  • Switching out faucets to those that are easier to grasp or those that only require a touch to turn on
  • Inserting chair or bed raisers
  • Adding a handle or bed rail for getting out of bed
  • Adding a motion-activated nightlight2,3

Furniture considerations

Many people with PD find it helpful to use canes or walkers to aid them in walking and maintaining their balance. In later stages of PD, people may need to use wheelchairs. Because of canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, open pathways in and between rooms are important. Furniture may need to be moved to create pathways, and standing lamps or tables should be put in areas where they cannot be easily toppled. Floor rugs may need to be removed, as the thickness can be difficult to walk on or create a tripping hazard. Tile, linoleum, or wood floors are safer, and any loose rugs should be secured or removed.4

When choosing a chair, look for one with a stable base. Swivel chairs or chairs with wheels are not a good option for people with PD as they can trigger loss of balance and increase the risk of falling. Chairs with firm cushions and sturdy armrests make rising from a seated position easier. Electric lift chairs can also be helpful for people with PD who have difficulty getting out of chairs.3

Assistive devices

In addition to making adaptations to the home, many assistive devices are available that can help daily activities like eating, bathing, and dressing easier for the person with PD.

Written by: Emily Downward | Last reviewed: March 2017
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