18 Common Home Modifications to Improve Life With MS

As your MS progresses, you may find it necessary to make some modifications to your home to make it safer and more accessible. Such alterations can vastly improve the quality of life for people living with the disease, allowing them to regain some independence and making life more comfortable.

Here are some common home modifications you may want to consider from the National MS Society:

Home Entrance

  • Widened doorways and hall
  • Ramp or access without steps
  • Covered entrances

Bathroom

  • Raised toilet
  • Lever-operated faucets
  • Grab bars outside shower and bathtub
  • Low or no-threshold shower
  • Shower chair

MORE: Advice for people newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Kitchen

  • Lowered counters
  • Creating space underneath counter tops to accomodate a wheelchair
  • Front-loading appliances
  • Raised dishwashers
  • Front control ranges
  • Side-by-side refrigerators

General

  • Low pile carpets or non-carpet flooring
  • Lowered thermostats and light switches
  • Raised electrical sockets
  • Rocker-style light switches

MORE: Six resources that will make living with MS a little easier.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

9 comments

  1. Ruth Kettyle says:

    Any news on treatment for secondary progressive ms, which is what I suffer from. I’m 57 years old and would be willing to go on any trails available. I’m also wheelchair bound.

    • hi don’t know if you are in US or UK but…
      there are UK SPMS trials starting on Simvastatin (spelling?) and Biotin.
      Rituximab which is effectively the same as the new drug Ocreluzimab, has quite a few people UK and US with SPMS using successfully (Look for an FB users page).
      Other than that most RRMS drugs could help preserve upper limb function but this has been overlooked because all the key measures of efficiacy (EDSS etc.) are based on mobility – we have been forgotten? check out the Barts Blog http://multiple-sclerosis-research.blogspot.com/

  2. Rhonda Danielson says:

    These are all great suggestions, they just have one major problem; ALL of them require money-a lot of money-to do. Much of it is major construction. Much of it (electrical, flooring, walls, plumbing) also involves building codes as to where things can be located (switches/outlets) or what they can be covered with (sub flooring requirements are different for carpeting than they are for linoleum or tile). Then there is the whole load bearing wall issue that can quickly turn a $10k remodel into a $30k rebuild.

    I don’t know about other people, but by the time my MS was diagnosed and I knew what I was dealing with, I did not have the $20k-$30k to remodel my kitchen (no appliances yet) or the $10k-$15k to do the bathroom.

    There are a lot of organizations out there that will help with meds, medical devices, cooling vests, etc. and even a few local non-profits that will help with maintenance stuff like touch up painting and yard work as well as house cleaning services and snow removal/landscaping.

    With the possible exception of Habitat for Humanity (which most of us will not qualify for)there is no one/organization that will help cover the construction cost of the suggested modifications.

    What do you do if you don’t own the place where you are living? Remodeling of any sort is not an option and sometimes neither is moving.

    Some more practical suggestions would be a grabber for reaching things that are out of reach; having a work table for food/meal prep; electric skillets, crock pots/slow cookers and other “counter top” ovens and single burner induction cook surfaces for cooking that can be placed on a table top; surge protectors that are plugged into an outlet and then mounted at a convenient height; motion sensors for lights and water faucets; chip technology (like for our cars) for locking/unlocking doors; portable aluminum ramps where appropriate for steps; free standing commodes without their buckets that can be placed over a toilet.

    The two most expensive modifications in my list are the aluminum ramp and the door lock. Even those come in at under $1000.00. All of them can be done by a home owner/friend and all of them, with a bit of negotiation, can be done to rental property as well.

    Modifications to your living space does not have to cost a lot of money or create a lot of stress. Sometimes a modification is simply learning a different way of doing a task and sometimes the modification is not doing the task at all (think Roomba).

    • Julianne says:

      Rhonda has great suggestions. As a retired physical therapist with secondary progressive MS, I can affirm changes to your home help a lot but they are sometimes cost prohibitive. A good home health Occupational Therapist can provide great suggestions customized to your needs – ask your doctor for a home health referral for and occupational therapist to come to your home and suggest modifications. Some simple helps that I have found are:

      Expandable Door Hinges which can be exchanged for regular door hinges – adding 2″ to doorway opening

      put rubber bands around bottles or hand held shower – this helps improve grip

      extend the recline handle on your reclining chair/sofa by slipping a pvc pipe (hardware store) over the handle

      use a shark sweeper to clean up dry spills – lightweight and easy to empty

      keep a flashlight with you – on your power chair

      Just thinkin’ we gotta help each other!

  3. Anna says:

    The MS Society always has lots of suggestions, but bringing them to fruition takes resources that not many have. Even if we can still work, who can afford all of these home modifications! Impossible! (Do you know how much a Rumba costs…..hundreds!) I am still trying to get a mobility scooter and it seems like a monumental task, I have no help with household chores and I have difficulties with the fatigue. I feel totally defeated ?.

  4. RB says:

    Those are good suggestions.

    It would be good to hear of modifications when you are not yet wheelchair bound, to deal with cognitive problems, vision problems, coordination problems, fatigue, …

    We often associate MS handicap with the physical aspect but many of us, if not most of us have problems that have not put us in a wheelchair yet. Changes to your home don’t seem obvious in those cases, but they are important. Things as simple as removing clutter and clearing spaces, having a central place to keep reminders, etc.

    Maybe that would be a good topic for a follow-up article? If so, I’d always be very interested in learning new tips and tricks!

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