If you are someone who is living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), you probably have many questions and concerns as to your safety at home. The following are some essential tips from the MS Society to help you adapt for safety, accessibility, and comfort in your home:
- Ask your police and fire department for a home inspection.They will provide you with key advice, and some fire departments will place a decal on the bedroom window of an individual living with a disability.
- Plan emergency exit routes.
- Install wide-angle peep holes in solid doors at your eye level. If you sometimes use a wheelchair or scooter when answering the door, install a second peephole at wheelchair level. Always ask for a badge, identification, and/or a verifying phone number from anyone at your door claiming to be a police officer or utility worker. Never open your door to strangers. When answering the door, call out, “I’ll get it, John,” even if you are alone.
- Do not invite salespeople in your home. Also, do not place classified ads that require someone to come to your home, unless someone is with you.
- Do not let the outside of your home advertise that a disabled person lives there. Camouflage ramps with landscape plants, no more than waist high. Keep your vehicle with its handicapped plates in the garage. If possible, use a removable handicapped vehicle placard instead.
- Never let strangers on the phone know that you are alone or disabled. It may be tempting to use your disability as an excuse to put off telemarketers, but also unwise.
- Electronic door lock and intercom systems may be worth the investment. You can talk with a visitor without having to open the door. Also, doors will lock automatically when guests leave.
- Be sure your fire extinguisher is accessible. Also, know how to use it!
- Choose a day of the week to test smoke alarms. Change the batteries when you reset your clocks for daylight savings time. Or try the new 10-year batteries.
- Keep electric cords and computer cables controlled and out of traffic areas. These are a major trip hazard. Also, do not have them hanging loosely over counter edges.
- Choose a visual reminder at the table where you eat to ask yourself if you turned off the stove. This can be a note or an item that is always there, like salt and pepper shakers.
- Before making major home renovations, ask a doctor for a referral to an Occupational Therapist (OT) and Physical Therapist (PT) for a home visit. These therapists are able to suggest ways to keep the person with MS (or any disability) as independent as possible, to ensure safety, and to reduce physical strain on the caregiver.
If you or someone you know is living with MS, we welcome you to join us for Magee’s exciting new program, MS Healthy Living. If you wish to register for the program, or if you have any questions, please contact Mary Clare Schafer RN, MS, ONC, CRRN (program director) at 215-218-3905.