Getting kitchen ready for DH's return :)

lavender_lassJune 2, 2013 husband is supposed to come home in about two weeks! It's been almost 10 months since he got sick and there have been several set backs, but he's doing well with his physical rehab and I'm getting the house ready. He's still in the wheelchair, but doing well with the walker in his rehab. We have a ramp going in for the front porch and adding a walk in shower and pedestal sink in the master bath.

The kitchen is a galley style and there's not much I really can think of to do. He doesn't cook that much and there's no seating area, but anything obvious I'm missing? I need it to work with the wheelchair, the walker and possible balance issues, even when he's no longer using the walker. He has neuropathy, but it's getting better and the doctors expect a complete recovery in 6-12 months.

Thank you for any ideas :)

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Do you have a comfort height toilet? My DH was in a wheelchair for a year and that, though not critical, helped. Also, a shower chair and a detachable shower head if possible. Ummm... get rid of any throw rugs or runners. Keep water/drinks on a lower shelf in frig so accessible if you're not handy.

Sorry for being random but writing things as I think of them. Congrats on your husbands progress and moving forward in health together.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 6:21AM
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This is such great news. I'm glad he's coming home soon. I will pop back on this thread later with any ideas I have, (very early and I just woke up but I wanted to send my congrats right away).


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 7:06AM
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Not sure of your current layout. If your microwave is too high for DH to reach, maybe consider getting an inexpensive countertop model for temporary use.

My father has low vision and balance issues, and he manages quite well to be sufficient in the kitchen. Some things he likes are 16 oz bottled water and sodas. He can put the lid back on and not worry about spills. He also keeps them in a foam coozie to make it easier to set them down upright on the table.

He also uses large Dixie paper bowls and makes scrambled eggs in them in the microwave. Add egg and stir with a fork and then add a splash of milk and tiny pat of butter. My dad can't see the timer on the microwave. So he puts it in and presses the 1 minute button. (it has a sticker he can feel for). Then counts to 30, opens the door, stirs it, and then restarts. No worries about broken dishes or hot dishes and he eats breakfast early when he gets up.

And yes to what remodelfla said. My dad has "his" shelf in the fridge for what he needs.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 8:32AM
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Wonderful news, LL!!! Does the refrigerator open where it is accessible? That is all I can think of right now!

All my best to you both!!


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 8:49AM
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Holly- Kay

Just want to say that I am so happy that you will DH at home! Best wishes to you both!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 8:52AM
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I'm glad to hear that your DH is heading home soon. No ideas that haven't been covered by everyone else, but my best wishes for his continued recovery.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 9:14AM
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Good news!

I'm more familiar with bath safety options. If you can't do an ADA height toilet, a raised seat would be readily available and affordable. If he has trouble standing back up, a toilet safety frame would help. It adds arms on the side to grab and push/balance from. Definitely grab bars. There was some discussion recently over in Baths, there are lines now that look less medical, and also double function models. I'm putting a combination TP holder/grab bar plus using one as a towel holder in the powder room. Just in case. A bench and handheld shower are great suggestions also.

A walker tray and tray for his lap for the wheelchair would help when moving items. Try to minimize reaching too far, it can affect balance. Maybe a drawer with some dishes, silverware, and plastic cups in easy reach? A lightweight chair nearby for resting might help too.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 9:51AM
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I'm so glad to hear the good news, Lavenderlass.

Since I haven't yet faced a similar situation, it's only an obvious thing that occurs, and I imagine you're doing this already: to rearrange the kitchen so that everything he'll typically need will be at the most comfortable available height. I imagine it would mean gathering items that're usually kept in different cabinets together in the best drawers and on the best shelves.

Since moving items from place to place will be a little more work for him, would something like a plastic bin he could set stuff in on his lap for that be useful? I'm getting pretty speculative now, so I'd better stop. This wheel was invented and refined long ago. :)

Anyway, lovely news.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:47AM
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Chairs with arms for ease of sitting/standing up. Think kitchen/dining table, family room, bedroom, etc - wherever he may want to take a load off his feet. Good luck, we dealt with this with my Dad. Your DH will be so glad to be back in familiar territory.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:56AM
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Just wanted to add my best wishes for you two and to say how happy I was to hear of his improvement. Ten months is such a long time! When I broke my foot a few years ago I made good use of a mid quality Staples rolling chair with arms to scoot around within the kitchen and elsewhere. It did not work well on carpet, so hope you mostly have floors in the house. It is a lot narrower than a wheel chair, although maybe he will have access to a scooter.

Best of luck!


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:16AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

LL, that's wonderful news for both of you! I recall my FIL attaching a plastic 'bicycle basket' to a walker for my husband's grandmother. It made it much easier for her to carry a book, water bottle, sweater, etc.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:45AM
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LL-That is great news. I can only reiterate what was said above: ADA height toilet if possible; if not, a raised seat. A lower (seat height) mw. Grab bars and bath seat.

I would expect you might be able to get an OT out to look at your situation and give some more specific suggestions, or at least to give you a list of things to think about. MY FIL is now in a wc and all of the things mentioned have been a help to him.

Good luck to you both. I know it has been a long hard road, but being home is wonderful for both of you.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:45AM
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All good suggestions above so not much I can add. Just want to say so happy for you and your husband!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Lavender lass, best to you and your husband! How wonderful that he is coming home! And you, making sure his comforts and ease are met.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 12:03PM
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How wonderful that your hubby is coming home! I am so happy for you both!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 12:09PM
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Congratulations! It seems you've gotten some good advice here. The only other idea I can contribute is that the rehab specialist and/or social worker at the rehab center should be able to offer specific suggestions. In some cases, they will even visit the home and make suggestions.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 12:14PM
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That is absolutely great news!!!

I am so very pleased to hear that your DH is finally coming home. I have been worried that we hadn't had an update for awhile and I was hoping that didn't mean that progress had stalled.

Ten months is an eternity in rehab these days, but worth every day if it gets him back to living at home again. When I think of how much time it must have taken you during this period to go back and forth for visits and support and meetings with staff, while still maintaining your household and business it boggles my mind. No wonder you haven't had much time to post here. (But you were missed, none the less!)

The only thing I will add to the list is one of those metal long-handle grabber type things. Perhaps he has already acquired one. They are the nuts for picking up dropped stuff, and reduce the chance of falling while reaching for things on the floor.

Hope all plans stay on schedule and you're back to "normal" in a few weeks.

Looking forward to hearing how things go.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 3:35PM
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Just echoing everyone's congratulations, and also how important it is to find out about all the resources available to you and DH. Social worker in hospital/occupational therapists first of all, but there may be community resources as well - ask about organizations that help as well as whatever help you can possibly get from the rehab specialists. That's what they're there for!

I don't know how weak your DH is, but if you have to leave home and worry that he could fall and be unable to reach the phone, a Lifeline button might be a good investment (he can wear it around his neck and press it in case of emergency).

We do miss you and are thinking of you both...

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 3:47PM
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Great news! I've followed your story on the Small House forum, and wish both of you the very best.

Also taking out rugs so its easier to move around. Especially if its a thicker rug it could be hard to roll on or may be a tripping hazard with a walker.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 3:48PM
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That's wonderful LL! I know it will be much easier on you once he is home. If he's going to back in action in 6 months or so, I wouldn't make any permanent changes to the kitchen, just arrange things so he can get to them for now.

When my father-in-law was using a walker, we had to be careful of table cloths, curtains that hung to the floor, or anything that would hang it up, like the dining chairs. The hardest part for him was getting out of his recliner. It required too much lower leg strength to push the foot rest in. One with electric controls would be great.

If he doesn't have a grabber, you can get him one of those so he can extend his reach.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 4:09PM
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I am thrilled for you LL!! What great news. What a long, hard road you have all been on.

Sometimes, OT or PT personnel do a home visit before the patient is scheduled to return. They point out areas that are most likely to be a problem, and give tips on any furniture rearrangement or better places of items the family member will have regular need of. You may want to discuss this with his therapists.

Otherwise, everyone here has given great suggestions. The biggest that stand out are pulling up any area rugs, chairs with arms that are easier to get in and out of, and his own shelf in the fridge.

Definitely get a handheld shower head in your new shower, and really think about where you are placing the grab bars. Unfortunately, my mom was more comfortable sitting on the bench at the opposite end of the grab bar my dad had installed, so getting in and out continued to be a challenge. But the shower head he had put in was fantastic.

Best of luck in this new chapter in his recovery!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 5:09PM
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Just wanted to add my well wishes and am so happy for you that DH is finally coming home.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 5:46PM
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Yvonne Albertyn_Brazil

Heartfelt congratulations!! I'm so happy to hear of your husband's progress, and wish you and him all the best in the next stop of his recovery. You've gotten some great ideas here.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 5:48PM
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This is wonderful news! I've been thinking about you and DH and wondering how things were going. I have a few suggestions for you gleaned from experiences after my DH had 2 major operations (one a complex knee repair in which they had to take tissue from the other knee, and the other major hip repair when the top of his femur broke in a climbing accident). Although DH wasn't in a wheelchair, some of these are applicable to your situation. I'm so happy for you, DH, and your family! God bless!

1) We don't have ADA toilets, but got a frame to attach to the toilet that had grips so DH could pull himself up from a sitting position.

2) Get a grabber to help him pick things up that have been dropped. There are more things on this website that might help DH.

3) Hand-held shower head and shower chair.

4) See if you can rent a recliner that helps a person stand up. LazyBoy sells these, but maybe they can be rented at a hospital equipment place.

5) Pick up all rugs and clear all pathways.

6) Insurance paid for a hospital bed for the first week or so.

I'm sure there were more things we did and equipment used, but this is all I can think of right now. If I think of more things, I'll post again. Again, God bless you and your family.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grabbers and more

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 5:50PM
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Great news!
The recliner chair with assist turns up on craigslist often enough. People who no longer need them sell them.
I'll second the idea of checking with a social worker. The rehab facility might well arrange a meeting or visit to your house as a matter of course.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 6:01PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Bed risers help a lot with raising up the height so getting in and out of the bed is easier. You can get them at Bed Bath and Beyond. A grab bar near the head of the bed helps too. A medical supply company can also have clamp on bed rails instead of a hospital bed. A Clapper for the bedside light.

Split tennis balls for the bottom of the walker so it doesn't scratch the floor or hang up on stuff. The unsplit ones make good squeezies to develop hand strength if needed. If grasping is an issue, change out round door knobs to lever ones. For the shower, adding the handheld is also pretty easy to do, but you will want a longer hose than most off the shelf ones come with. You can get the extra long hose at most box stores right where they sell the handhelds.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 6:20PM
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Oh Lavender I bet you are so excited to have him home! I know I would be and it sounds like it has been a long road.

Everyone has given such wonderful advice. My mom always tended to slip and fall upon getting out of bed so make sure you are there at that time or have something sturdy to grab onto. Also, she once tore her arm open on a sharp edge of a nightstand. What was crazy was that it was IN the hospital!!

Good luck and I am so happy for you!!!! I am sure your hubby can not wait to be home either!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 6:41PM
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Wonderful news, especially the prognosis.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 8:00PM
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Lavender - as others have said- this is great news! As I recall, you have a wonderful older home.

Did the rehab center complete a home visit? The OT can give you suggestions on home management and safety.

A critical safety issue- getting into and out of house using properly built ramps.

Others have given great suggestions, so won't restate those.

If you email me, I can give you more specific suggestions(but let me know you are emailing me as I don't check the account frequently). I worked with rehab for over 30 years.

You are special for hanging in there for the last 10 months!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 8:01PM
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LavenderL, yes, this is great news. You have such a gift for hospitality, as I perceive through your posts - I hope someone spoils both of you when DH gets settled in.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 11:00PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

LL, there is something I was thinking about this morning. I don't know if your DH enjoys using a computer, or if he is able to use a regular keyboard--I've included a link to a google search for large-print keyboards.

There are so many interesting forums on GW--gardening forums, nature forums, Hot Topics, and the KT (kitchen table), if one just wants to share thoughts and communicate with the world. Maybe if DH gets bored or restless with inactivity, you can hook him up with GW, or other sites that will interest him.

Take care of yourself. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: large print keyboards

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:51AM
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Thank you all for the wonderful advice! I really appreciate it :)

We are getting the handicap toilets and grab bars and our contractor is coming out in a few hours. I'll let him know about some of these ideas...and I think the social worker does visit the house, before my husband comes home. So many great ideas...I'll have to read through them carefully.

I'll check back later, but right now...I have to clear a bunch of plants off my porch, so they can start building the ramp today. I just can't resist a discarded plant that still has a bit of life to it. Last night, I came home from the grocery store with this poor tomato plant that hadn't been watered and it's looking great today.

Talk to you all, soon and thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 11:51AM
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I have no brilliant suggestions, lavender_lass; just wanted to send my very, very best wishes for your husband's homecoming, his continuing recovery, and for you as you begin this new phase. Lots of positive thoughts going out to both of you!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 1:58PM
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Thank you for letting us know he's coming home. So many have been thinking about him and praying for you both.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 2:12PM
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Hi LL! I'm so glad he's coming home.

The suggestions above are all great. We had many of them as my late husband was going through the end of his cancer battle (which was less than 3 months ago but sometimes feels like ages; sometimes like yesterday.) Some of the handiest things for him have been mentioned: the comfort height toilet, the separate sprayer and chair in the shower (the sprayer was easily added by a neighbor; there was a switch that changed the water from the shower head to the sprayer. It was easily removed after my DH passed away.)

He also had a grabber and something called a sock puller - that's good for someone with limited range of motion and let him put his socks on without my help.

It was handy to have a covered cup with a straw and/or refillable water bottles with lids when he started to get a bit shaky.

We had a hospital bed that helped tremendously (especially good if someone has breathing issues from fluid build up and needs to sleep sitting up.)

Do you have a handicapped parking placard to hang in your car? This was tremendously helpful when DH was using a walker and then a wheelchair; he still went to all our kids' sporting and other events and it was nice to be able to park close by.

Also, depending on his medications and if he has lost a great deal of weight, he might get cold. My DH was constantly cold so we had electric blankets on the bed and couch, and a friend gave him a jacket that had batteries and wiring and heated up! (He wore that on our last vacation and I can tell you that TSA sure checked that thing out very well.)

We got some chairs called 'cane chairs' that are super light weight and easy to carry, and easy to open up and sit down if he gets tired on an outing.

Be sure to take good care of yourself, too. Being a caregiver can be exhausting and if you are exhausted or sick that's no good for anyone. I signed up to get a massage every month and that helped work out the extreme kinks I would get (I tend to carry stress in my shoulders) and I made sure to keep working out 4-6 days/week - it was my sanity check and get-away.

And accept all help! I've had more meals delivered than I can count and it has been a great help. It can be hard to accept the help, but if it helps you and your family that's great, AND it makes others feel useful and good.

Best of luck to you both and here's wishing him a speedy recovery!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 6:43PM
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That's great that he's coming home. Take it one day at a time and it will all work out. Best wishes for a wonderful homecoming.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:02PM
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I don't know how typical this is, but when the SO got home with a new knee joint, at the first visit the physical therapist did a quick walk-through of the house with me so we could get rid of any inadvertent obstacles.

And the surgwon's office had a handout on what to do for house prep.

Some things, like the step down from entry to LR couldn't be changed, but we had already had grab bars and a low-curbed shower installed after the busted leg incident.

So ASK the care facility and the primary care doc what you really need to do.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:31PM
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He's home!!! :)

Thank you all so much for the support! I'm so happy he's home and the doctors say he should make a complete will just take a little time.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 2:41AM
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Best wishes for a great recovery for DH!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 3:58AM
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That is great news. I am sending both of you positive energy to continue the recovery process. I am assuming he actually arrived home on Father's Day. What a great present!
As others have said- take care of yourself as well as DH! And reach out for help. You have helped all of us and we want to help you.
Also- please check and remove any throw rugs if you haven't done so yet.

Chicago- god bless you for sharing so close to your loss.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 4:52AM
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Awesome news, I wish you both all the best !

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 6:24AM
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I'm so happy for you both! Sending healing thoughts your way! Enjoy!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 7:47AM
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LL - You've been on my mind and I missed the announcement you made when he was first preparing to come's been such a long time in coming. I'm glad to hear that he's there now. I can only imagine how much both of you have been through. Best of luck to the two of you and hoping that he surprises doctors with his recovery to come along even quicker than they expect. Many healing thoughts going out.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 8:22AM
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Looking at the time, it appears you had a very long day yesterday. Hope it was a happy Father's Day and homecoming. Hope the remaining recovery is smooth and swift.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 10:45AM
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lavender- Just saw this--- Congratulations! Wonderful news! I am so happy for you. Sending you my best wishes!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 11:04AM
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Great news, Lavender and DH. The road back to normal's a tough, busy one for you, no doubt, but you're most of the way there. Finally. :)

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:43PM
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