Make Your Home Work for You When You Have MS

Articles On Multiple Sclerosis Occupational Therapy

Multiple sclerosis can change how well you can move around and get things done. So you may have to tweak how you do your daily tasks to make them a little easier.

Changes around your home and to your routine can help with that, and can save you energy for things you enjoy. Think about your house and your lifestyle to see if you can make any of the following changes.

Home Equipment

To get started, talk to an occupational therapist or rehabilitation specialist. They can look around your home and recommend devices that can make your daily activities easier and more comfortable. Some examples include:

  • Built-up utensils
  • Grab bars
  • Reacher devices
  • Electric beds or mattresses
  • Sliding boards
  • Wheelchairs

What Changes Can I Make?

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There are many small tweaks you can make in your usual routine, including dressing, using the bathroom, cleaning, and working in the kitchen.

Not all of these recommendations for habits and gear may be right for you. But your occupational therapist or rehab specialist can help you know what will help you the most.

Getting Dressed

  • Sit in a chair that has arm rests while you put your clothes on. This will help you keep your balance.
  • Roll from side to side to get pants over your hips. You can do this while you sit in a chair or lie down on your bed.
  • Wear clothes that are loose-fitting and have elastic waistbands.
  • Choose wrap-around clothing instead of the pull-over type. Also choose items that open in the front, not the back.
  • Wear clothes with large, flat buttons or use Velcro closures.
  • Use a buttonhook to button garments.
  • If you have shoulder weakness, use a dressing stick to get your coat or shirt on and off.
  • Use a zipper pull or attach a leather loop on the end of the zipper to zip pants or jackets.
  • Other devices such as a sock aid and a long-handled shoehorn can help, too.

In the Bathroom

  • Use an elevated toilet seat or safety rails to make it easier to sit and stand. Do not use towel racks or bathroom tissue holders to help you stand. They’re not sturdy enough.
  • Install grab bars inside and outside the bathtub or shower.
  • Use a bathtub transfer bench or a shower chair with back support.
  • Put extended lever handles on faucets to make them easier to turn.
  • Put a nonskid mat in the bathtub.
  • Use a handheld hose for showering and bathing.
  • Use a long-handled sponge or scrubbing brush.
  • Use soap-on-a-rope, bath mitts, or sponges with soap inside instead of bar soap.
  • Use lukewarm water. Very hot water can make you tired and aggravate your symptoms.
  • Sew straps on towels to make them easier to hold while you dry yourself.
  • Place a towel on the floor outside the tub to dry your feet so you don't slip.
  • Put a towel on the back of your chair and rub your back against it to dry. Or use a terry cloth robe instead of a towel to dry off.
  • Use hairbrushes and combs with built-up handles or ones with finger loops.

Use toothbrushes with built-up handles or use an electric toothbrush.

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Eating and Drinking

  • Rest your elbows on the table to give you more motion in your wrists and hands.
  • Sit with your knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle in a straight-back chair.
  • Use utensils with built-up, lightweight handles. Or use a "spork" -- a spoon and fork in one. Try a rocker knife to cut food.
  • Use a non-skid mat (made out of a material called Dycem) to keep objects from slipping on the table.
  • Use a plate guard or plate with a raised lip to keep food from spilling.
  • Use a long straw with a non-spill cup, or use a plastic mug with a large handle.

In the Kitchen

  • Have at least one workspace that’s low enough for you to reach it when you’re seated.
  • Use a jar opener for tightly sealed containers.
  • Don't close bottles or jars too tightly once they’re open.
  • Use an extended lever to open lift-tab cans.
  • Use pans with a wide base that you can’t knock over easily.
  • Use a food processor to chop vegetables.
  • Use plastic containers. They’re less likely to break.
  • Store food and drinks in small, easy-to-manage containers.
  • Place utensils, pots, pans, and measuring cups on a pegboard or in an accessible cupboard instead of in lower cupboards. That way you won’t have to bend to reach them. Sit when you’re getting things out of lower cupboards.
  • Use a spike board for vegetables, fruit, and potatoes so you have both hands free to peel or chop them.
  • Use two hands to pour liquids.
  • Use scissors to open cellophane packages. Use a box top opener for boxes.
  • Use electrical appliances whenever it’s possible.


  • Use long handles on sponge mops, cleaning brushes, dustpans, brooms, or window washers.
  • Sit to fold laundry, wash dishes, iron clothes, use the vacuum, mop the floor, or plug in appliances at low outlets. Adapt counters so that you can reach them from a wheelchair or from a sitting position.


  • Call ahead to make sure the store has the item you need.
  • Ask to reserve a wheelchair or tri-wheel cart if you aren't planning to bring your own.
  • Call a taxi, or ask a friend or family member to drive you.

Other Tips

  • Always keep emergency numbers where you can get to them easily. Pre-set them on your phone.
  • Use telephones with oversized buttons.
  • Remove throw rugs to avoid slipping or tripping.
  • Make your home as comfortable and cozy as possible. Use soothing colors to decorate, and buy scented candles or potpourri in fragrances that relax you. Keep photos and music around that lift your spirits.
  • Make sure the temperature is right for you.

The more comfy and uplifting your home is, the more positive your attitude will be.

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