When one becomes disabled, it becomes impossible to do normal tasks the habitual way. Home organization and systems need to be changed.
The rooms causing the most difficulty are the dressing area, the bathroom, and the kitchen. Upcoming posts will deal with each of these rooms in detail.
The most important thing in the bathroom, even if you have no grab bars, are to have non-slip mats installed in the shower, and an additional non-slip mat where you step out of the shower. I realized this after slipping and falling flat on my back, where I was stuck naked and on the cold tile floor alone for 5-10 minutes before being able to move, but luckily did not hit my head or break my hip.
The most important things for the dressing area are a bench-type of seat, with padding (to protect your tailbone area when leaning back). This bench-seat should not be placed next to a wall, but in the center of the room, enabling you to swivel legs to the other side. A carpeted area needs to be on both sides of the bench. Most commonly-worn shoes and underwear, as well as basic clothing, all need to be within easy SEATED reach. Dressers or hanging space can be positioned about two feet from either side of the bench for easy seated reach. A long-handled shoehorn is a great help.
The kitchen needs to be completely reorganized. A table or other low surface from where you can work easily at a seated position needs to be placed facing out into the room, with a chair placed behind it, and in front of the counter. A swivel-chair with wheels (we use a secretary’s chair which we already had at a desk in the house) enables you to easily turn and reach items in the cupboards behind, or on the counter behind. The items most commonly used–stainless-steel mixing bowls, measuring cups, and various knives and commonly used kitchen implements such as peelers all need to be located next to the swivel chair, either on the counter in tiered baskets, or in the drawers or cupboards easily accessible from the seated position. The microwave should be within easy reach. When cooking, it’s helpful to have a large bowl of water on the table, which you can ladle out with smaller bowls for various uses, including rinsing hands and knives when working, as this minimizes having to struggle out of the chair and to the sink, either without crutches, or getting crutches dirty with food-covered hands. It’s helpful to have paper towels and kleenex stored within reach, as well.