Moving freely and safely around your home and how to talk about it
As you adjust to sight loss, you and your family or room-mates will need to make changes so you can step freely and safely anywhere in your home. If you are anxious about bruising yourself or falling, you will tend to stay seated more of the time. You won’t get back to doing household chores so easily, and your health and mood will suffer.
Here is a change you can make
With significant vision loss you may not be able to walk around a chair pulled out or avoid the shoes at the front door because you won’t know they are there. You may still have enough sight to see large objects or pick out something white on a dark background, but there will be occasions when you aren’t thinking or the light is poor. Then you will walk smack into the chair or trip over the sneakers.
What are the traffic paths?
You’ve probably never thought about this unless you’re in home design, but there are major pathways or traffic patterns in your home. These are the paths that everyone uses all the time to go from the front door to the living room or the kitchen and to the stairs (if you have them).
What are the major pathways in your home? You will think of several. Don’t forget the bedroom to the bathroom, the stove to the sink, and the back door to the trash cans. Of course any steps or stairs can be a danger and should be kept clear at the top and have a hand rail.
What does “clear” mean in a traffic path?
It means that nothing on this list is left on a pathway in your home.
- shoes, toys, piles of things, especially on stairs or steps
- mats or rugs that might slip, or have corners curling up
- furniture, especially anything that juts out, or is fragile
- open cabinet doors
- open dish washer or oven doors
- partly open room doors
- trailing electrical cords
It’s helpful to have a way of explaining the changes to your family that doesn’t blame anyone. You also want to keep it simple because you’re going to have to say it a lot. Here’s one way you could try:
“Let’s all work on keeping the traffic paths clear so we don’t have any accidents.”
Setting a good example
Show everyone often, and as cheerfully as you can, how you are putting away your shoes, closing doors, and pushing in your chair. Try out ways to make the traffic paths clear by moving delicate furniture and ornaments to safer places out of the pathways. This may seem too hard at first, but in time you’ll be glad to be helping your family and yourself make the changes.
Is there really danger?
A pair of sneakers on the doormat, a door left half open, or a shelf corner that sticks out are all hazards. The dishwasher door left open or a laundry basket on the stairs are real dangers for you (and for other people too).
You have to make your home a well-organized safe place
Even if you weren’t so orderly when you had more sight, everyone will benefit if you become the cheer leader for clear traffic paths now. You will walk confidently around your home carrying the laundry to the machine, and the pan to the sink. It will be another step on the road of personal recovery.
How do you talk to your family or roommates about making the home safe for everyone? Please share your tips and comments.