This page is dedicated to issues surrounding more significant alterations to your home, including ways to make both the process and the results more “fibromite-friendly.”
Kitchens and Bathrooms
Buying a new refrigerator? Consider one with the freezer on the bottom to reduce bending and stretching. Other fibro-friendly features include full-extension drawers, elevator shelving, and doors deep enough to store popular items.
Planning to remodel your kitchen or bathroom – rooms in which many household accidents occur? Consider rounding the edges of cupboards and cabinets, and perhaps even adding softer materials to those surfaces. Replacing standard flooring surfaces with nonskid materials can help, too.
Faucets with a single handle controlling water volume and temperature are easier for many fibromites to use than their two-handled counterparts. These devices make it simple to select the ideal temperature and water flow (no small matter!) and are often operated by a lever mechanism, so you can push against the handle rather than grasp and turn it. Another option, though it may involve more effort, is a pedal-operated sink: these are hands-free, but each pedal controls either the hot or the cold water, so arriving at the desired temperature could pose problems for those with balance concerns.
Adding a pot-filler faucet behind your stove can save transporting heavy pans of water back and forth from the sink. These usually have folding arms which allow them to lay flat when not in use, so they don’t get in your way. Definitely one of the best features of professional kitchens, these are great tools for home cooks as well.
Kitchen and bathroom cupboards can be too high to access comfortably, especially in a small space, and balance issues can keep many fibromites grounded. A great solution is to build a step stool into your toe kick area. Rather than pulling a folding step stool or ladder from a drawer in the toe kick, this built-in step is basically an upside-down drawer itself. You tap the face of the toe kick with your foot to pop out the step, then push it back in when you’re finished. The wide standing area gives you more room to wobble without falling off, and the runners at the bottom protect your floors. Best of all, there is no bending involved!
An easy and inexpensive addition to your kitchen is the installation of an instant hot-water tap. This device provides on-demand hot water for making tea, oatmeal, and other foods and beverages.
General Remodeling and Renovating Tips
Considering some home modifications to reflect your changing physical needs? Consult HomeMods.org, a subsidiary of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence. This helpful site offers information (resources, directories, online courses, and so on) for both professionals and consumers who are looking for ways to adapt their homes to their bodies.
Another great place to seek out ideas is AdaptMy.com, which offers a wide variety of products and resources for adaptive remodeling.
Having laundry facilities on the main floor of your home can be a terrific boon, especially if you have poor balance or difficulty carrying heavy loads. [Sound familiar?] However, if you’re moving your laundry room from the basement, you’ll need to make significant plumbing and electrical changes to your home.
Installing roll-out and/or drop-down shelving in household cupboards can eliminate much painful reaching. These are readily available from manufacturers (especially roll-out models), or you can purchase the hardware and convert your existing shelves.
If you’re planning to remodel or enhance your home, consider adding a built-in vacuum cleaner. These central vacuums rely on a motor (placed usually in a basement, attic, or crawl space) with attached hoses running within the walls throughout the building. Instead of pushing and pulling a wheeled vacuum cleaner, you operate a flexible hose that plus into a socket in your wall. Most available models can be installed in existing homes.