The stroke Journey A fresh start 2. House and home 1 House and home If you have recently suffered a stroke, you may need to adapt your home to make it easier for you to move around safely. During recovery, you could be affected by dizzy spells from standing up too long and sudden movements might make you lose your balance. As you learn to live with any disability, there is an increased risk that you might slip or trip over an uneven surface or items left on the floor and this could further knock your confidence. The likelihood of an accident happening can be reduced by making changes to your home, such as installing rails. You may also need to use special equipment to carry out day-to-day tasks. Your occupation therapist or local council can provide advice and support: Arrange furniture so you can move around easily. Be careful where you put low objects and electric flexes. Keep routes to the front and back door, fuse box and mains water clear so they are easy to reach. The bathroom door should open outwards – if you fall inside, you can then be reached more easily. Replace awkward door knobs with easy to grip lever handles. If you have steps to your front or back door, consider a handrail. Make sure any rails are fitted properly – some types of wall may need special fittings. Avoid leaving items on the stairs – they can become a tripping hazard. Landings, stairs and hallways should be well lit with two-way light switches. Make sure banisters are sturdy. The fitting of two easy-grip handrails gives more stability. Ensure stairs are carefully maintained – damaged or worn carpet should be repaired or removed. Do not put loose rugs on a polished floor or at the top of the stairs. Try to get the same level of light in each room as eyes take time to adjust. Avoid repetitive carpet patterns that may produce a false perception for those with poor eyesight. If your sight is poor, contrasting colours on edges and steps help you avoid tripping and make door surrounds, switches and plugs easier to find. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are a must for every household. If you can’t hear very well after your stroke, you can get alarms which flash and vibrate under a pillow. You should also consider an emergency alarm system, which are often provided by local authorities at low cost. This involves you wearing or carrying a device fitted with a button for you to press in an emergency. It will then use your telephone line to call for immediate assistance. You may be eligible for financial assistance if you need to make adaptations to your home (e.g. access ramps, ceiling-track hoists, house extensions, level access showers, polyflor showers, stairlifts, through-floor lifts). Grants for any adaptations may be obtained from your local council’s Adult Services Department.