Archive for the ‘Living at Home’ Category

3 ways to protect the arthritic hand while at home

Monday, July 8th, 2013 by admin

When was the last time you heard of a senior complaining about pain in their shoulders, elbows and/ or hands. I hear it on a regular basis with clients in the nursing home.  At least in the nursing home, residents have access to rehabilitation services readily available to take care of these ailments.  What about elders in the community that do not have easy access to these services. That is why I thought about sharing some ideas that would help elders in the community who are suffering from arthritis live better and more productive lives.

Modify the environment

Nowadays, there is no excuse for not having lever type door handles around the house and/ or apartment. Lever door handles are just an example of a growing number of items that can make navigating home much easier. It is also a good idea to start changing door knobs on all cabinetry for stylish door handles. You can also change faucets with knobs to faucets with handles or motion activated faucets. Another good alternative to decrease stress on the joints is to switch items with regular sized keypads such as remote controls and telephones with enlarged keypads. These are just a few of the many ways the environment can be modified to reduce joint stress and promote joint stability.

Modify the way you do things

Wringing a towel or mop towards your pinky finger, carrying heavy shopping bags with your hands, carrying a heavy cooking pot by the handles. These are all examples of everyday activities performed by seniors in the community that can exacerbate joint degeneration. Therefore, seniors need to look for ways to modify these activities without limiting their independence. As a general rule every time a manual activity is going to be performed, it is recommended that the person use larger muscle groups such as those in your shoulders and arms rather than your smaller and weaker muscles like those in your forearms and hands. For instance, when going grocery shopping seniors should push a shopping cart that way there is minimum joint stress. If the senior does not own a shopping cart an alternative could be to carry large brown bags which can be carried between the arm and the hip.

Respect pain

Oh, the good old saying “no pain, no gain” definitely does not apply in this case. If there is one thing people suffering with arthritis should learn is to try to keep pain as far away as possible. Therefore, it is important to respect pain and avoid any activity or action that would start it. Seniors who understand their limitations and manage their level of activity will usually protect their joints better and limit the amount of pain they feel. Whereas, those that generally decide to work through the pain end up causing more joint degeneration which in term increases their pain levels.

Consult with an Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) or occupational therapist if you would like to make your loved one or family member safer and more comfortable in their home during their golden years.

By

Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS

Senior Partner

Adapting Spaces, LLC

mcalbertotr@adaptingspaces.com

1888-956-0077

Aging in place ideas for renovating a Brooklyn apartment, Part 2

Thursday, June 6th, 2013 by admin

The kitchen and bathroom are two of the most important areas in an apartment, even more so when trying to keep the landlord or tenant living in it safely and independently. Throughout this blog, I will talk about my experience making repairs to these two areas and will give specific ideas as to how to make them more user-friendly. I will also provide solutions to improve the use of lighting and electric fixtures around the apartment.

Kitchen:

  • If you are getting new appliances, pick ones that have easy-to-read, simple controls near the front of the cabinet edge.
  • Faucets:  Choose faucets with one control in the middle or choose paddle-style controls. Avoid small knobs that twist to operate the faucet.
  • Consider a hands-free faucet if you have hand/arm issues like arthritis.  If arthritis runs in your family this may affect you in the coming years.
  • There are some technologies available that can control the temperature of the water at the spigot (faucet). This is a good way to prevent scalding if the building has water that is way too hot.
  • Make sure to plan for a countertop near the cooking surface, so that pots can be set down easily if needed. Consider a work area or two that has a lower countertop height – that way people of all ages and abilities can help prepare the meal (and clean up!)
  • Flooring: Choose flooring in the kitchen that is different than the color of the cabinets. Kitchens can be a dangerous place and often people are carrying things. Anything you can do to make walking paths safer is a good investment and contrasting colors are a simple way to do this.

Bathroom:

  • Very important! Have the contractors install 3/4” plywood backing behind the sheetrock of all walls, especially near the shower and toilet!  You’ll want to have this in place if it is ever needed for grab bar support.
  • Create a walk-in shower that does NOT have a built-up tile barrier between the shower area and the room. (“zero step entry”). There are beautiful, well-designed drains that will keep the floor dry. No need to create a short wall that someone might not be able to get over.
  • Bathroom falls are common and dangerous. Choose a floor tile that is less “slippery when wet.”
  • Place the toilet in an area where there is room to maneuver around it.
  • Consider a sink that is bolted to the wall and DOES NOT HAVE a vanity under it. I know storage space is very important in Brooklyn apartments, but work with your designer to create other storage. You can even have your plumber align the pipes parallel to the wall, so that there is more “roll under” space for those that may need wheelchair access. Be aware to insulate the pipes if they are close to where bodies will be.  And again — paddle controls for the water, not knobs.

Electric:

  • Install rocker-style lighting controls, not the traditional switch kind. Dimmers are also helpful. Motion-detecting lights can help someone get around safely at night. There are even touch-free switches available.
  • Choose fixtures that light the way and the task, but that do not shine directly into the person’s eyes.  Task lighting and lighting design in general, make spaces more inviting and safer.
  • Be creative! Lighting is a place where you can really let your personality and priorities shine.
  • Consider installing a few outlets near “social areas” that are higher up the wall then the usual 14” from the ground.  (Outlets at that height are most useful to children who like to stick things into them.)

There are so many more things to think about – and if you are working with a good architect, they probably will present these kinds of ideas to you. But if you are working with a contractor on just a part of your apartment, you might need to guide them to the solutions you want.

The important thing to keep in mind is that you do not need to compromise AT ALL on good style to make your home welcoming to everyone.  In fact, thoughtful design choices will open worlds of creativity and accessibility that may also give you a return on your investment immediately and years to come!

Consult with an Aging in Place Specialist if you would like to make your loved one or family member safer and more comfortable in their home throughout their golden years.

Kristine M Samms
856 345 9208
AccessKMS.wordpress.com
Safe, functional, dignified living in your home.

Aging in place ideas for renovating a Brooklyn apartment

Friday, May 17th, 2013 by admin

Our homes should be places of safety and promote good health, but often our homes work against these quality-of-life factors. I am an Aging-In-Place Specialist in Brooklyn. I see apartments being renovated all the time.  I see some really good design, but often I see apartment design that will make it difficult to live there if the tenant/owner’s physical ability changes.  So here are some ideas to think about as you make renovation decisions about your apartment.

In general:

  • Homes should be safe for people of all ages and abilities.  It should make guests feel independent and comfortable when visiting their loved ones.
  • Create spaces that are open and passageways that are wide.  Everyone will be very thankful for ease of motion throughout the apartment, whether someone has a stroller or a wheelchair/ mobility device.
  • If there are elevation changes between spaces (I see these mini-steps in the older apartments often), find creative ways to CLEARLY mark them – even with automatic lights at night if possible.  Try to avoid using door thresholds between rooms, if possible.
  • Natural light:  If, at some point, someone needs to be in the apartment for long periods of time, a big part of health for them will be lots of fresh air and natural light.
  • When replacing windows, choose casement windows that open with a crank or a horizontal sliding window.  Fresh air is so important, and some people can’t raise the sash of a conventional window (or lock it).
  • Choose lever-style door handles, not door knobs.  Not only are lever-style handles more stylish, they will be useful to all residents and visitors for years to come.  Something we might be seeing more of is keyless locks with touchpads to operate the lock. If you are having new locks installed, why not choose one that will be useful and safer; regardless, of your dexterity (and also helpful when your arms are full of organic groceries).

Consult with an Aging in Place Specialist if you would like to make your loved one or family member safer and more comfortable at homes during the golden years.

Kristine M Samms
856 345 9208
AccessKMS.wordpress.com
Safe, functional, dignified living in your home.

Stay at home safely – strategies for success

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 by admin

Almost everyone would prefer living at home, though thinking of the best ways to accomplish safe and independent living at home can be a challenge.  Fortunately today more than ever there are a variety of options and products that can help you stay in your home.  The greatest challenges can be finding the right products and solutions that truly help you stay independent and safe, while maintaining your home’s aesthetics.

Making a plan

Finding the right solutions and sorting through the numerousproducts available requires making a plan for success.  There are many individuals (builders, remodelers, and medical equipment providers) who claim to be “aging in place specialists” who hold marketing information but lack a true understanding of creating individualized solutions.  Finding the right solution for your independence and safety depends on your own individualized needs and comes best from the perspective of a physical or occupational therapist.

Why is the physical/occupational therapist perspective important?

For any remodeling industry professional who has taken the NAHB – CAPS certification (a brief introduction to the field of home accessibility), the importance of collaborating with an occupational therapist for accessible modifications is of familiar importance.  Creating a plan with an accessibility provider or specialist with background as a physical or occupational therapist makes sense as therapists have an in depth knowledge of the aging process, disabilities, function, and most importantly an understanding of task analysis.  The process of task analysis entails breakdown of functional tasks or activities of daily living into their smaller components.  By gaining a more detailed knowledge of what is required to complete an activity, we gain a better understanding and ability to provide effective solutions.

Considering your home’s limitations

In addition to requirements of the individual we need to look at thelimitations of the home as well.  From this aspect it is important to work with an experienced and qualified remodeler who has an understanding of the structural limitations and requirements of your home or environment.  As with most things in life, a well thought out plan can provide savings in time, money, and in the case of homemods – preserve or enhance the beauty of your home.

Finding the right solutions

It requires the right team to look at the whole picture and find the best solutions for your home.  Common areas that require assistance for accessible modifications include:

  • bathroom accessibility (barrier free showers, grab bars, tub lifts, tub cut outs, and walk in tubs)
  • accessible entry to the home (ramps, porch lifts, automatic dooropeners)
  • managing stairs inside the home (stair lifts, home elevators, dumbwaiters, inclined platform lifts, vertical platform lifts, and mechanical lift devices)
  • independent function in the home (function within the kitchen, independence with transfers, ceiling lifts, door widening, railings and supports).

Planning ahead is well worth it, and incorporating the functional and medical perspective of occupational or physical therapists trained in accessible designs can provide a valuable perspective in finding the best solutions.

This article was written by Rob Horkheimer, MPT, CEAC, CAPS, ECHM, accessibility specialist and owner of BILD (serving Wisconsin and Illinois).  Rob’s Milwaukee based company provides the collaboration of physical and occupational therapists trained in the field of home modifications along with experienced contractors, designers, and elevator/lift specialists who find intelligent solutions for independence and safety in the home.  Visit www.bildnow.com to learn more about accessible options and opportunities available for home and community.

United States Senior Housing Problem

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 by admin

The first baby boomers turned 65 years old in 2012, that is roughly 2.8 million seniors nationwide. By the time we are done with this wave of baby boomers turning of age, there will be approximately 70 million seniors according to the AARP. While working on a series of blogs about New York City and its crippling housing stock, I came across an interesting video. In the video, Henry Cisneros, the former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, talked about the current state of senior housing in the United States. He spoke about the current challenges faced by seniors with the shortage of suitable living environments that can accommodate to their needs; what is being done about it; and what the plans are for the future.

I want to share this video because this is not only a challenge for seniors , but a challenge for the American society as a whole. As a healthcare professional and Aging in Place Specialist, I see a huge opportunity for society to move forward by advocating for more user-friendly spaces and fully accessible communities that will not only benefit seniors but anyone regardless of their level of function. Mr. Cisneros mentioned a series of long term solutions that could help in dealing with this challenge. One of the solutions was the creation of a program similar to the Weatherization Assistance Program, WAP. For those not familiar with WAP, it is a public assistance program that helps income-eligible families reduce their energy consumption and finance repairs to make the home more energy efficient.  Mr. Cisneros proposes a similar program that would provide financial assistance for seniors and homeowners to retrofit their homes in order to make them more user-friendly. Any comments or feedback about this video is welcomed.

Watch video.

By

Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS

Senior Partner

Adapting Spaces, LLC

mcalbertotr@adaptingspaces.com

1888-956-0077

“Dangerous” Activities of Daily Living

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 by admin

Extra, extra!! Read all about it!! One common potential danger we face on a daily basis, is a routine and mindless act that we perform at least 365 times a year. That’s right!! There are times where something as simple as taking a shower can be hazardous to your health. I will explain… The chances of suffering a fatal accident while in the shower are greater than those of being hit in a terrorist attack. We have become more aware of the dangers we face relating to gun violence, terrorist attacks, and nuclear weapons. However, we have become less vigilant when it comes to the dangers we can encounter in our own homes. I recently read an article published in the New York Times that discussed this issue and how seniors 65 years and older are at greater risk. It is important to understand that some activities of daily living, such as taking a shower, can become more challenging as our functional capabilities diminish. An active lifestyle and exercise can help you maintain an adequate level of function. However, there are instances where this is not enough and accommodations need to be made to the environment. These modifications can make the living space more user-friendly so that the senior can perform their everyday activities more comfortably and safely. Follow the link below to read the entire article, “That Daily Shower Can Be a Killer”.

Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS

Senior Partner

Adapting Spaces, LLC

mcalbertotr@adaptingspaces.com

1888-956-0077

Caring for a senior during a natural disaster

Monday, October 29th, 2012 by admin

Dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster like a tornado, flood, hurricane, or earthquake can be a very stressful situation.  Caring for a senior during and after a natural disaster can be even more daunting. A natural disaster can lead to loss of life and/ or property which can leave someone feeling empty, depressed and with an increased sense of vulnerability. This is why it is very important to be ready before disaster strikes so that you are prepared to face whatever the effects may be. Below are some ideas to help you and the senior you are caring for stay calm in the face of disaster.

Social Connections: When dealing with natural disasters, it is not uncommon to experience disruption of services that breach our social connections (i.e., family and friends). Therefore, it is important to connect with at least one person in your community- perhaps a next door neighbor.

Remain Informed: As part of your emergency kit, you should have included a battery operated radio with extra batteries. Make sure you remain informed about looming dangers and regular updates from emergency response agencies. Avoid listening to sensationalist news broadcasts or rumors and discourage the senior you are caring for to engage in this type of activity as well.

Try to Keep a Routine: Although, it may be easier said than done, it is important to try to maintain a routine. It will help you feel a little more organized. For instance, try to make sure that you and the senior you are caring for get enough food and sleep. If you are both under a medication regime, make sure to take your medication and provide medications to the senior at the regular times.

Stay Active: It is very easy to feel hopeless and helpless when there has been a loss of life and/or property due to a natural disaster. Therefore, it is important to avoid getting into a funk by staying active within your community. Invite the senior you are caring for to help you with light chores around the house if possible. This is one way to stay physically active. Another way is to volunteer to help others that have been affected within your community.  They will probably return the favor and help you out as well. Remaining active will help you and the senior you are caring for keep your minds occupied.

Additional Resources:

Evacuation Centers http://www.google.org/crisismap/2012-sandy-nyc

Report Storm damage http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/nycsevereweather/damage_form.shtml

Red Cross NYC http://www.nyredcross.org/

By

Miller Calberto, M.S, OTR/L, CAPS

Senior Partner

Adapting Spaces, LLC

mcalbertotr@adaptingspaces.com

1888-956-0077

Paying it Forward

Monday, October 15th, 2012 by admin

Living at home with a disability can be quite challenging.  Many people with low income struggle because they can not afford to make their homes safer and more accessible.  As a result, they live day to day as best as they can and try to manage with their current situation.  In an effort to help out individuals with physical disabilities and/ or seniors in the community, a non-for-profit organization named Rebuilding Together was started.  This organization believes that “everyone deserves to live in a safe and healthy home” (www.rebuildingtogether.org).  Hence their mission is to assist low income home owners with home repairs, accessibility modifications, and energy efficient upgrades.  These modifications are done at no cost to the home owner since they work alongside volunteers and are helped by various corporate partners.  Rebuilding Together has been helping low income homeowners for over 30 years and has grown exponentially operating over 200 independent sites throughout the United States. 

 As part of a “paying it forward” effort, Adapting Spaces, decided to partner up with Rebuilding Together NYC to help out with a home accessibility project.  This project lead by Rebuilding Together, needed skilled experts in the field to volunteer their services to perform home assessments in order to determine the needs of their clients.  Therefore, Adapting Spaces decided to help by performing these assessments.  While working on this project, I had the opportunity to work with two families that were in need of home repairs and accessibility modifications.  One of the families shared their story with me and it really touched my heart.  I was deeply saddened to hear of their hardships.  This family had to face the daunting challenge of seeing their disabled family member confined to one room for over a year.  He had no way of accessing the other rooms in the house or the outside world because he could not walk.  While there, I also found out that this adolescent suffering from physical impairments, had a broken wheelchair and was not receiving any therapy services at home.  As a therapist, this was disconcerting and I was compelled to help out this family beyond performing the home assessment.  After leaving their home, I wrote a detailed report to Rebuilding Together with specific recommendations for accessibility modifications.  I also contacted another organization, with the family’s permission, to work on getting a new wheelchair and therapy services for the adolescent.  The family was very appreciative of my efforts in assisting them beyond the Rebuilding Together process.  Now, the adolescent has a new wheelchair and is receiving therapy at home.  He is starting to walk and is participating in various activities of daily living with the help of occupational and physical therapy.      

As an Occupational Therapist, I have the opportunity to work with and help many people suffering from various conditions.  I believe that it is important to help out those that are in need.  This experience has been personally and professionally rewarding in that it has made me more conscious of the fact that it only takes one good deed to effect a greater change in someone’s life.  I wanted to “pay it forward” by volunteering my services to Rebuilding Together’s cause.  In doing that, I was able to help out and make a huge difference in the life of this adolescent.  Being able to “pay it forward” has made my contribution that much more meaningful and purposeful.  “Pay it forward”, you never know whose life you can change.

By: Esther Gonzalez M.S. OTR/L Bil TSHH

Adapting Spaces, LLC

egonzalez@adaptingspaces.com

1888-956-0077

FALLS PREVENTION

Monday, September 24th, 2012 by admin

Fall prevention is an enormous topic that, as an Occupational Therapist, I get asked about all the time.  No one wants to or anticipates falling in their home, but it happens.  People always want to know how to not fall while at home.  If you work in healthcare in any way, you are aware of the prevalence of falls across the country.  Being able to advise clients and family members in proper home modifications is vital.  Keep in mind that you cannot prevent falls all together, but with the proper home modifications you can prevent falls as much as possible. 

According to The National Safety Council and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2007, more than 21,700 Americans died as a result of falls; more than 7.9 million people were injured by a fall; and over 1.8 million older adults that had a fall-related injury resulted in an emergency room visit.  Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among older adults 73 and older and the second leading cause of death from ages 60-72 (http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/Resources/Pages/Falls.aspx).”  In addition, a new CDC study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), “ an estimated 234,000 people ages 15 and older were treated in U.S. emergency departments (ED) in 2008 for injuries that occurred in bathrooms.  Four out of 5 of these injuries were caused by falls” (http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Fallrisks/).

When I recommend home modifications, I do my best to keep it simple and save costs as much as possible.  This is usually a very overwhelming time for the people I am working with and by sticking to a few basic principles and recommendations I feel that I am generally able to accomplish what I need.  Here are my basic recommendations to decrease the risk of falls and increase safety throughout the home:

1)      To enter the home, be sure that there are handrails on both sides of the stairs.  Ideally, there should be a landing so that the door can swing open all the way to allow for easy entry.  Also be sure to provide/have proper assistance just in case.

2)      Upon entering the home one of the first things I look at is the type of flooring used.  I look for smooth transitions between rooms.  This allows for easy maneuverability of wheels (either on a walker or wheelchair) and reduces a trip hazard of having to step over a threshold.

3)      There should be no throw rugs.  If there are throw rugs that cannot be parted with, use of a non-skid mat under the rug is essential to reduce the possibility of wrinkling and sliding.  Another common suggestion is to tape the edges of the throw rug down to avoid the edge rolling up or getting caught.  Of course always use extra caution when rolling over the edges (of rugs/ thresholds) to avoid a trip hazard.

4)      Keep walkways free of clutter to avoid the need to step over or move things with your feet or equipment while ambulating.  Most standard/basic walkers are ~18” wide so keep this in mind for clearance.  This can be especially difficult in smaller homes with narrow halls and doorways.  If this is the case for you, do the best you can and if possible ask for or get assistance. 

5)      In the bathroom install a grab bar in the shower to assist with standing tasks.  In the instance of a tub/shower combo use a tub transfer bench for easier and safer transfers.   In the instance of a shower stall use a shower chair.  In either case I always err on the side of caution in the case that balance could be an issue.   This way there is a place to sit if needed in a pinch.   Non-skid matting or stickers on the floor can be used to decrease slippage on wet tile.  For ease of toilet transfers, at the very least use a raised toilet seat either with armrests attached or a grab bar on the wall depending on the space available. 

6)      If there are stairs present in/out of the home be sure to use contrast as a marker for the edge of each step.  This can be done simply with electric tape or paint.  People with visual impairments can have difficulty judging where the edge of the step is without contrast.   

7)      In the kitchen be sure that commonly used items are kept within easy reach.  This means to use the bottom shelf of the upper cabinets and the top shelf of lower cabinets as much as possible.   One other tip I love to give is to keep dishes used daily in the dish rack.  This way they are literally within arm’s reach at a moment’s notice.

8)      In the bedroom, as in the kitchen, use top drawers or the easy to reach middle portion of the closet to make clothes retrieval easier.  This way there will be minimal bending and over- reaching for needed items.  Be sure to keep bed linens off the floor to avoid getting feet/walker caught and tangled causing a trip hazard.  

9)      Lighting is key!  Be sure that lighting is kept natural whenever possible.  Avoid glare off shiny objects such as the television or floor.   To achieve this you may only need to change your bulbs to a different wattage or change the position of a lamp to provide less direct light. 

I always remind clients that safety is key!  Each person and each home is different, but with the right foundation you can easily build or change these recommendations to suit your needs. 

Contributed by

Elizabeth R.K. Tomoso, OTR
Occupational Therapist
Independent Life Solutions
(808)280-5176
etomoso@yahoo.com

BRINGING THE PATIENT WITH A STROKE BACK HOME

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 by admin

As an occupational therapist, I often work with clients that have suffered a stroke.  The effects of a stroke, otherwise known as a cerebrovascular accident, can manifest in a number of ways.  It can range from slight weakness of the muscles to total paralysis of one side of the body.  The side of the body that is affected is the one opposite to the area of the brain that was injured.  This blog post will focus on those individuals who have completely lost use of one side of their body. 

In the past, rehabilitation facilities had therapists’ assess the client’s home prior to discharge.  This was done in order to make the discharge as efficient and effective as possible.  However, due to the overwhelming emphasis on work productivity, budget cuts, and cutting back on staff more and more rehab centers have abandoned this practice. Clients suffering from a stroke are being sent home with just the basic skills they have learned while at the rehab centers.

Individuals with a hemiparesis (paralysis of one side of the body) can present with many difficulties.  One of the areas mainly affected is the ability to perform Basic Activities of Daily Living (BADL’s).  This includes: bathing, grooming, feeding, dressing, and toileting.  They can also present with poor coordination, diminished sensation, speech difficulties, problems with swallowing, and cognitive impairments.  As a result, we will explore some ways to help these clients live more comfortable while at home.

To begin, it is important to assess the environment and remove anything that would hinder the performance of a daily routine.  This can be done by adapting the environment to include things that would make the setting more user-friendly.  For instance, two of the main areas that need to be looked at when assessing the environment are the bathroom and bedroom.  Sometimes remodeling is not an option; therefore, it is necessary to adapt the existing space.  Occupational therapists with their vast knowledge of assistive technology can help in selecting the right assistive devices and durable medical equipment to facilitate this task.

Currently, there are a number of items on the market that occupational therapists can recommend to assist in performing activities of daily living.  We often suggest that all self-care items be placed in an easy to access area.  It is also important to make sure that there is good lighting and ventilation in these areas.  In the bathroom, water temperature should be regulated to avoid getting burned.  When it comes to dressing, utilizing one- handed techniques has proven to be just as beneficial as using assistive devices to complete the task.  One- handed techniques allow the client with a stroke to use their unaffected side to aide in performing various tasks.  Consult with an occupational therapist to learn more about one- handed techniques.  In the meantime items such as elastic shoelaces, pants with a velcro fastener, and shirts with snaps or larger buttons can facilitate dressing activities.  As a rule of thumb, it is important that the individual performing the activity be seated on a firm surface with both feet placed on the floor to provide ideal support and optimal posture.

Mealtime is another difficult task to perform after a stroke.  It requires stabilizing the plate; gathering and/or placing food onto a spoon/fork; and stabilizing food while cutting. In order to help the individual successfully perform the task, it may be necessary to use assistive devices.  As a rule of thumb, during mealtime an upright sitting posture is essential.  It not only facilitates the activity, but also decreases the likelihood of aspiration (choking).  Thus, it is necessary to ensure that dining chairs provide proper support to maintain a good posture and that the table be at a comfortable height for the individual.  Currently, there is a vast amount of assistive devices that can help individuals with a stroke become more independent during mealtime.  Some frequently used items are a scoop dish/ plate, ergo plate, and rocker knife.  These items can help turn this experience from a frustrating one into a rewarding one.

Suffering from a stroke can be a life changing experience.  Even more so for those individuals with complete paralysis of one side of the body.  Hospitals and rehab facility programs are designed to make life after a stroke easier.  However, when the client goes home it tends to be a different story.  A combination of one- handed techniques coupled with assistive devices can help the client with a stroke live at home more comfortable and independent.  An occupational therapist can assist in training and selecting appropriate assistive devices. 

 By

Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS
Senior partner
Adapting Spaces, LLC
mcalbertotr@adaptingspaces.com
1888-956-0077

Edited by Ester Gonzalez, MS, OTR/L, Bil TSHH