A day home, alone, may have been a treat before your spinal cord injury (SCI). It probably felt like a vacation from work or school. Now that you have a SCI, the prospect of staying home alone can feel challenging and scary. That’s to be expected the first few times until you get used to it. To prepare for when that day comes, here are a few tips.
Do A Practice Run
If both you and your doctor feel that you are able to spend time alone, give it a try by doing a practice run. With a caregiver or family member in the house, pretend as if you are alone. Do all of the things you’ll need to do when by yourself.
Some of the things to try out are:
- Preparing a Meal
- Going To The Bathroom
- Dropping Something And Picking It Back Up
- Answering The Door
- Making Phone Calls
- Feeding Any Pets
- Getting Dressed
- Taking A Shower
You may not have to do all of these things every day, but if you can do them, and the need to do them might arise, you should be practicing.
You don’t want to be home alone and then realize you don’t have anything to eat that you can prepare. Plan ahead of time by taking inventory of what you have. Lay out some snacks that are easy to prepare. Put pre-made meals into containers that only require heating in the microwave. If you have trouble reaching utensils or glasses, go ahead and set those out on the table.
Also, make sure you have all the medical supplies you need. If you have to do any catheterization or wound care while alone, first ensure that the supplies are within your reach. Then count to see that there are enough of them.
Prepare Your Space
Some rooms of the house may be easier to move around in. If so, you can move the items you will need for the day into this space. For example, if the kitchen is inaccessible, but the living room is, move your food items into the living room. You may even want to invest in a mini fridge or microwave that you can set up at an appropriate height, just for your personal use. Another consideration is the bathroom. If the bathroom is cramped, you could move your bcathing supplies to your bedroom.
And for safety purposes, make sure the phone is somewhere you can easily reach. If you have a home phone line, you may want to make sure there is a telephone that can be accessed in every room you will be using.
Make Some Modifications
Before being left alone, make all the home modifications you find necessary. For example, if light switches give you a problem, try using a power strip to plug in lamps. Then you can place the power strip at an accessible height and use its switch to turn the lights on and off instead.
In the bathroom, go ahead and install grab rails. If you’ve been using a caregiver to help with transfers, start practicing using other methods instead. Besides rails, there are transfer boards that help move you out of your chair. There are also ropes and handles that can be attached to your bed to help you sit up and get on and off your mattress.
Drawers and cabinets can be modified with special pull handles, and appliances that are too high to reach can be moved to a lower surface.
Pack An Emergency Bag
No one plans to have an emergency, but it’s always good to be prepared. Pack a bag with snacks, cathing supplies, medication, and other things you might need if you suddenly have to leave the house.
Along with the bag, keep a list of emergency numbers. You should have one packed as well as one out on the counter. Writing down your name, address, and diagnosis can be helpful, too. If you are in a stressful situation, this will take off some of the pressure of having to remember everything.
Finally, if you are unable to stay in your home alone without some serious home modifications, check out this article on Home Improvement Grants to find out how you can get the assistance you need.
Author: Annie Beth Donahue is a professional writer with a health and disability focus.