An ALS diagnosis is something no one ever wants to receive. If you’ve had that conversation with your doctor, I want you to know my heart goes out to your family. Having had many clients with ALS, I’ve witnessed what people go through on a daily basis.
This experience has compelled me to serve families like yours by helping you better cope with the effects the ALS diagnosis has on your life. (It also is what made me become so involved in the ALS Association of Central & Southern Ohio.)
First, by educating myself about how ALS affects the lives of the people it touches and the home modification options available to them. Second, by striving to be a professional you can count on … for advice and insight that stems from helping many families living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). And third, by helping you create the home that will support you and your loved one during this time.
That’s what we’ll look at in this article: How home remodeling and modifications can help you.
ALS diagnosis? Get help with remodeling
Every person is different (as is every home). However, for folks living with ALS, there are certain areas of your home that you will need to be modified so they work for you at some point.
Once someone receives an ALS diagnosis, they typically have no idea what that will mean for their life (much less, their home). The truth is, as ALS progresses, so will your loved one’s needs. That’s why knowing upfront what the future might hold (and preparing your home for it) is so important.
To put that into perspective, early on an ALS patient will still be able to much of what they have done in their home. Over time, their ability to talk, lift, walk and even perform many activities of daily living will diminish.
My goals are to help you get the best possible care and remain as independent as possible, while keeping you safe at home. Then, to empower your family and caregivers as the disease progresses.
›› Call us today at (513) 677-0196 to schedule a consultation
ALS home remodeling
The following are home remodeling ideas that you can use as you plan your life with ALS. Not all are applicable early on after an ALS diagnosis. But, you should use them as you plan for later, since they will be practical (and helpful).
Main floor living
As with many other types of accessible home designs, having everything you need on one floor of your home is the best situation if you can accomplish it.
This means your bedroom, bathroom, living area, kitchen and laundry are all on the same floor. And, that you have an accessible entrance on that floor.
The reality for ALS patients and their families is that going up and down the stairs is going to wear everyone out. It also is a serious safety risk, not only for the person, but also their family members or caregivers.
Having everything on one floor will simplify your life now, and will allow you to get better care in a more safe environment; now and in the future. If that is not an option, you could invest in a home elevator. However, they are very costly to purchase and install.
Powerchair & wheelchair accessible
The reality is that as ALS progresses, your ability to walk will diminish. Having your home setup so you can use assistive devices will simplify your life beyond belief. There are a few things you need to know about using them in your home.
You will need room – There will have to be space in any of the rooms you plan to use not only to move, but to also turn. This means open spaces in rooms, clear pathways, and wider doorways and hallways.
Floors will take a beating – A wheelchair is so difficult to use on carpet. Powerchairs are not affected by it. However, your floors are going to get things tracked on them from the wheels. So, having a harder surface that is easier to clean will help tremendously.
The bathroom is an area of the home where a lot of focus should be on function. Early on, there may not be a lot of accommodations needed. However, farther along caregivers will encounter major obstacles.
Things will get wet – This is especially true once you have to have help bathing. We’ve taken to using ideas from wet rooms to ensure you larger areas that can get wet.
Barrier-free showers – When it becomes difficult to maintain your balance, not having to step into a shower seriously improves your safety. If you’re using a wheelchair or powerchair, being able to roll into or transfer into the shower will be a must.
Sitting isn’t optional – Eventually, you’ll need to sit to shower. And, will need help to get into a shower. Benches (or other seating), handheld showers, multiple shower heads, grab bars and even transfer devices will be your friends.
Sinks that are handy – Being able to sit at (and roll-under) a sink is very helpful. So are lever or touch faucet controls, anti-scald devices and handheld sprayers (for washing your hair when you can’t shower).
Toilets – Having an elevated toilet will make your life so much easier. (Not to mention, easier for whomever might help you later on.)
›› Call us today at (513) 677-0196 to schedule a consultation
A person with ALS will typically spend an increasing amount of time in a bedroom as their disease progresses. Early on, as with the bathroom, making it easy on them is the goal. Later, it’s to make caregiving easier.
Plenty of room – At some point, you will most likely need an additional bed if you share your bedroom. (Later, your spouse or caregiver may prefer to have a separate bedroom.)
Storage space – Having ALS means you’re going to need space for all the stuff that comes along with living with it. Medical equipment, personal care items and others will need to be stored and be easily accessed.
Transfers, at some point – Eventually, you’re going to need help getting in and out of bed. Not only will you need the room mentioned before, you also may need special equipment.
After an ALS diagnosis, one thing you will experience is muscle weakness. That means, getting into your home safely and easily is going to become increasingly important. “Safely” is the key word, here; for you and for your family.
Steps & stoops – Going up a step or two to get to your porch or door is going to present a problem. Handicap access ramps and vertical platform lifts are two options readily available.
Thresholds – Having a no-step entry will be needed at some point so you can get a powerchair into the home. You need at least one accessible entry (two if you are funding your remodeling with the VA SAH Grant).
Doors – Having a wider doorway that is easily opened will make getting into your home easier. (There also are automatic door openers available.)
I don’t normally recommend a lot of changes for kitchens, since (due to the progression of ALS), cooking for yourself will eventually become difficult and dangerous. However, there are a few that can be helpful for you and your family.
- Pull-out cabinets
- Multi-level counters and roll-under island areas
- Roll-under or sit-under cooktops
- Roll-under or sit-under sinks
Next Steps – Call (513) 677-0196
If you or a family member suffers from ALS, there are options available to you for your existing home. DeVol provides accessible home modifications for people who have received and ALS diagnosis. Our knowledgeable design and remodeling service is provided by experienced professionals who genuinely care about your family.
You also can contact us here.
“Home Adaptations”, ALS Association, http://www.alsa.org/als-care/resources/fyi/home-adaptations.html. Accessed 8.24.2017
“Home Remodeling, ALS From Both Sides, http://www.alsfrombothsides.org/remodel.html, Accessed 8.23.2017