Home Health Care Tips

When you’re recovering from an illness or surgery, or you have a condition that affects how well you can move, the tasks of daily life can be challenging. Here’s advice on the strategies and tools that can help you live safely and comfortably in your home.


What is mobility?

Mobility is how well you can walk and move, whether that’s getting to the bathroom or kitchen on your own, or doing fun things like going out to lunch with friends and traveling.

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Many people lose mobility as they age or because of health conditions or surgery. When you can’t walk easily or comfortably you may stay home more, which can leave you feeling lonely and cut off from people and things you enjoy.

Being mobile isn’t just important for your independence. It can also help you avoid some health problems, including depression, incontinence, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Plus, regular walking and movement can help prevent falls by keeping your muscles strong and maintaining your balance.

How can I improve my mobility?

The best thing you can do is get physically active.

Do a combination of aerobic exercise to get your heart pumping (like walking or swimming), resistance exercises to build and maintain your muscles (like lifting weights), and stretching to improve your flexibility.

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You’re never too old to start exercising. No matter what your age, when you start an exercise program, you’ll benefit.

There are many ways to get your heart pumping even if you have trouble walking or are not able to move your body well. You can exercise while sitting in a chair or in a pool using flotation devices. Talk to your doctor for specific exercises.

You can also ask your doctor for a referral to a physical or occupational therapist. A physical therapist will teach you exercises that will help you get moving. An occupational therapist can teach you new ways to do everyday tasks, which can increase your mobility.

Mobility Aids

What are mobility aids?

Mobility aids help you get around on your own without wearing yourself out or worrying about falling. These aids give you greater independence. As a result, you’ll probably rely less on others to help you with daily tasks.

Daily Living Tips & Tools

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With a few tools and some simple precautions, you can prevent accidents and keep up with your daily activities.

What can I do to keep stairs, steps, and floors in my home safe to avoid falls?

  • Arrange furniture so you always have a clear path to walk through any room.
  • Remove throw rugs or at the very least, use double-sided tape or a non-slip backing to prevent rugs from slipping.
  • Replace loose or torn carpeting, making sure it’s firmly attached to all steps. You can also use non-slip rubber treads on stairs.
  • Keep floors and stairs clear at all times.
  • Make sure you don’t have to step over wires or cords (like telephone or extension cords). If necessary, hire an electrician to solve the problem.
  • Fix any loose or uneven steps or handrails. Also, if you don’t have handrails on both sides of the stairs that are as long as the stairs, add them.
  • Install an overhead light and light switches at the top and bottom of any stairs.

What can I do to keep my bathroom safe and easy to use?

  • Place a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the tub or shower floor. Use self-stick strips for bath mats and area rugs, too.
  • Install grab bars inside the tub and next to the toilet if you need extra support.
  • Use a raised toilet seat to help you get on and off the toilet more easily.
  • Consider a bath bench for your tub. It may make it easier to get in and out, and might be more comfortable to sit at chair level than at the bottom of the tub.
  • Place night-lights in and around the bathroom.
  • Set your water heater to 120 F to avoid burning yourself.
  • Unplug any electrical appliances when not in use, including shaving tools, curling irons, and hairdryers.
  • Keep a long-handled brush or bath mitt in the shower to make washing less difficult.
  • Use medicine bottle openers.

Professionals Who Can Help

What is an occupational therapist?

Occupational therapists help people who are recovering from injuries and surgery, or who are living with physical challenges, find ways to do every day activities. They may:

  • Teach you how to use a walker, cane, crutches, or other mobility device
  • Show you how to get up and down stairs, into and out of a car, bed, tub, or chair more easily
  • Teach your family or caregiver how to help you
  • Suggest tips and tools you can use for doing household tasks
  • Suggest furniture arrangement and other changes to make getting around your home easier and safer
  • Recommend ways to help you keep doing the things you enjoy (gardening, walking your dog)

Circulatory Support

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When you have trouble moving around, you may spend more time sitting or lying down. Not walking for long periods can lead to problems with swelling and blood circulation. Those problems can, in turn, make it harder to get your mobility back. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a vein disease?

When the walls of your veins are damaged, blood can’t flow as it usually does. It collects and flows in the wrong direction, causing buildup in the veins, which can lead to swelling, sluggish blood flow, and the potential for clots. Eventually this can lead to a vein disease, which often happens in the legs.

Vein diseases are more common in people who’ve had major surgery or surgery on the hips or knees, or people who sit, stand, or lie down for long periods of time without moving around.

What are the symptoms of vein diseases?

  • Swelling in your legs and ankles
  • Aching, tired, or restless feeling in the legs
  • Varicose veins (bulging, purple veins seen under the skin)
  • Spider veins (small red or purple bursts on your knees, calves, or thighs)
  • Leathery skin on your legs with color changes and sores

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What is edema?

Edema is swelling. It can happen anywhere in your body, but it often happens in your feet, ankles, and legs. Edema has many causes, but it’s common in people who sit for long periods, who take certain medications, or have conditions like congestive heart failure.

Emergency Alert Devices

What is an emergency alert device?

These devices can be worn usually as a bracelet or pendant, and they have an alarm button that you can press in an emergency. It will immediately alert an operator who will send medical help. It can be lifesaving, especially if you live alone.

You can choose from several different systems, each of which comes with a different monthly fee. All of them are at least water resistant (some are waterproof) so you can wear them in the shower or tub. Some will only work if they’re in range of a base generally connected to a home phone line, but others also have GPS capabilities so they work when you’re away from home, too.

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