Home Renovations For Someone Affected By Parkinson's Disease

by Grace Motley

There are around 80,000 Australians living with Parkinson's disease. If you or a member of your family has recently been diagnosed with this condition, some changes to daily life will be unavoidable. There might also need to be some changes to the place where you spend most of your daily life, namely your home. These home renovations will vary from minor alterations to major modifications, depending on the severity of the condition and its associated symptoms, which can progress with time. What are some of the ways to make your home more liveable for someone with Parkinson's disease?

Minor Modifications

One of the most efficient ways to make your home a safe space for someone with Parkinson's disease doesn't require any actual renovations. Improve the flow of each room by rearranging the furniture and decluttering. This creates the extra space to manoeuvre through each room, which can be extremely beneficial for someone with Parkinson's. They should also have physical support where needed. Add handrails to corridors and walkways for support if they should be unsteady on their feet. Some portions of your home might also need additional light, so add additional light fixtures, or increase the wattage of existing fixtures. Light switches should be easily accessible and operated with a large, functional switch, to avoid any tight grasping or twisting of the hand. Voice operated lighting can also be a useful option.

Moderate Modifications

The bathroom will require attention to make it more user friendly for someone with Parkinson's. Moderate bathroom remodelling may be in order. Replace the toilet with an elevated model. This reduces the effort needed to stand up again after using it. Retractable handrails for the toilet can be helpful too. If a wheelchair is needed, the height of the basin should be lowered. The same goes for the kitchen, and the benches should be lowered so they can easily be accessed by a wheelchair. 

Major Modifications

Once a wheelchair becomes necessary, then some specific renovations will need to take place. Each entry point to your home will require a ramp, and if you should have a staircase, then a staircase lift system will need to be installed. When there is a second level to your home, it can be impractical for someone with Parkinson's to access this level on a daily basis, which is problematic if this is where their bedroom was located. Convert a downstairs room to a bedroom, and while this is often as straightforward as changing the furniture in that room, you could also take the opportunity to add an ensuite bathroom, containing those previously-mentioned modifications for this particular room.

These modifications and renovations make your home a safe and welcoming space for someone living with Parkinson's disease.