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Safety with Style: House design ideas you can hold on to

Friday January 29, 2016
We All Fall Down

When a person with Parkinson’s falls in the forest and there’s no one else around to hear it, it still makes a sound. Actually, a variety of sounds: Thud. Oooph. Waaaaa. Oh, #@*&.

Birch TreesOn walks through the woods, I stumble over criss-crossed vines, face-plant from tree roots, slide on rocks. Luckily, a blanket of fallen leaves and pine needles softens the blow.

Indoors, floors aren’t as forgiving. Neither are corners of furniture or stairways. Call me crazy, but unless I’m napping on the couch or asleep in bed, I prefer to remain upright when I’m in the house and studio.

Falling is a reality with PD. So much so that the upcoming 2016 World Parkinson Congress program lists an afternoon session on falls (and another on freezing and two more on dyskinesia, which can also lead to falls).

 

Building Supports

DaneMy service dog provides support. Unlike a cane, however, my Dane gets to curl up on his bed at times. Some of those times, my meds are “on” and I’m not likely to take a tumble. Other times, I can trip over a dust bunny. And then there’s that falling backward feature of PD….

When my dog isn’t beside me to hold onto, I wish that grab bars would materialize on walls, cupboards, the kitchen sink. How convenient that would be! Last I checked, though, lengths of steel tubing dotted throughout the house is not the current décor rage in House Beautiful.


Where to Grab

Fortunately, before having to make the decision about grab bar placement throughout the house, I get a practice round with the barn. It’s being renovated into my yoga studio. It also will second as a cozy (interpreted: cramped) living space once the house renovation is underway this summer.

Yoga Barn 1

I can’t wait until summer to decide on placement in the studio. Making choices now, during the framing stage, means that the builder can add extra backing to provide added support. I stepped through the movements that would happen in the studio before the yoga. I mimed hanging my coat, sitting on the bench to take off my shoes, rolling out my mat.

The necessary spots became clear. Obvious, even. If I’m going to teeter, the reason fits (mostly) into two categories:

  1. Pathway: This includes when it’s blocked, navigating around flotsam, or when hidden tree roots leap out. Okay, no tree roots inside. But I can certainly keep an eye on keeping the path clear (as noted in the next shots, after the walls went up and we started painting. In order: a) cords askew, b) bruised elbow from an unsuccessful step over cords, c) cords tidied.)
  2. Transitions: This includes anytime there’s a body-shift: from walking to stopping, standing to sitting, through a doorway, stopped to turning and walking.

I demonstrated this for the builder, who added extra supports beside the closet door, beside the bench, either side of the doorway to the bathroom (which is also beside the light switches – that’s a stop and start spot).


Renovation Yoga

Not only will this help when it’s time to add supports throughout the house, it helps throughout the day. Knowing that anything in these two categories is fall fodder, I can be more careful. I can scope out my path, I can notice when body shifts happen. I can bring awareness – just like I teach in my yoga classes – wherever I go.

Clearing Pathway before (a and b) and after (c).

A.)

Cords 1

B.)

Elbow Injury

C.)

Cords 2

Next post: Floors and tiles and thresholds: oh, my. And, a look at the mounted grab bars in the studio.

Renee Le Verrier, RYTRenee Le Verrier, RYT
NWPF Blogger

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