Household Tips

Keep these helpful tips in mind when doing activities around the house. It is important to share this information with family or friends who might be assisting you. These tips are in addition to those listed on the Home Safety Checklist provided in the Preparing for Surgery webpages.

General Tips

  • If you are using crutches, wear an apron with pockets or a belt pack. Remember, you will not be able to carry things in your hands while using crutches.
  • If you are using a walker, consider buying a walker bag or basket for use in transporting items.
  • Store frequently used items between waist and shoulder level. Do not stand on your tiptoes or bend excessively to reach for things. Use your reacher to do this whenever possible.
  • Arrange for help with child or pet care.
  • Always use your crutches or walker when taking a step. It is not safe to hold onto furniture, even for a few steps.
  • Ground floor bedrooms and bathrooms are ideal, but if your bedroom or bathroom is upstairs, you will be taught to negotiate stairs with care using crutches.
  • Save a new book or seated project to tackle once you are home.

Kitchen Tips

  • If possible, move your kitchen table close enough to the counter so you can easily pass food items back and forth without twisting.
  • To move an item from one part of the counter to the other, simply slide it along the countertop. If the item is hot, place a potholder under it.
  • If you must set your crutches aside temporarily while preparing food at the counter, make sure they are in a safe place where they will not fall to the floor. You may rest your hips or stomach against the counter for support.
  • Frequently used refrigerated items should be within easy reach (between waist and shoulder level).
  • Keep your freezer stocked with ready-to-eat foods.
  • Lighter weight and single serving items are easier to handle than large containers.
  • Arrange kitchen cabinets so that frequently used items are within easy reach to avoid excessive bending or reaching.
  • Use only stovetop or counter-level appliances to prepare food. Do not use low ovens or attempt to load or unload the bottom rack of the dishwasher.
  • Keep your trashcan accessible.

Bathroom Tips

  • If you are more than five feet tall, you may need a raised toilet seat or commode.
  • Do not use towel bars, soap dish handles, shower curtain rods or toilet paper dispensers for support when getting in and out of the shower or on and off the toilet.
  • Use a tub or shower chair as recommended by your occupational therapist.
  • It is important that you are able to reach your soap, shampoo, washcloth and long-handled sponge in the shower without excessive bending.
  • For a homemade “soap on a rope”, put a bar of soap in the leg of a pair of panty hose. Tie the other end to a tub seat or soap dish.
  • Always make sure there is no water on the floor when stepping in and out of the tub or shower. If necessary seek help to dry the area before attempting to enter or exit the shower.
  • Sitting down to dry off after showering is recommended.

If you have any questions about these suggestions once you are home, do not hesitate to contact the Newton-Wellesley Occupational Therapy Department at 617-243-6172. An occupational therapist will be happy to talk with you.

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