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Getting your home ready and safe


You will be using crutches, a walker, or a cane to move around when you come home. To protect your knee and stay safe, you will need to be careful how you move and reach.

Before you go to the hospital for surgery, set up your home to make your life easier when you come back. Do this well in advance of your surgery.

Devices and equipment can make it easier for you move around, dress, use the toilet, shower, and perform other daily tasks.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or physical therapist about getting your home ready.

Make it easy for yourself

Make sure everything you will need during the day is easy to get to and on the same floor where you will spend most of your time. If you will need to use the stairs, you should not have to go up and down them more than once a day.

Have a bed that is low enough so that your feet touch the floor when you sit on the edge of the bed. Set it up on the first floor if you can. You will not need a hospital bed, but your mattress should be firm.

Have a bathroom or a portable commode on the same floor where you will spend most of your day.

Stock up on canned or frozen food, toilet paper, shampoo, and other personal items. Either buy or make single meals that can be frozen and reheated.

Make sure you can reach everything you need without getting on your tiptoes or bending down low.

  • Put food and other supplies in a cupboard that is between your waist and shoulder level.
  • Place glasses, teapot, and other items you use a lot in the kitchen on a countertop.
  • Put clothes that you will be wearing in drawers and closets between waist and shoulder level.
  • Make sure you can get to your phone.

Place a chair with a firm back in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and other rooms you will use. This way, you can sit when you do your daily tasks.

If you will be using a walker, attach a sturdy bag or a small basket to it to hold your phone, a notepad and pen, and other things you will need to have close by. Or buy a small backpack.

Other items that may help:

  • A shoehorn with a long handle
  • A sock aid to help you put on your socks
  • A cane, crutches, or a walker
  • A reacher to help you pick up things from the floor, put on your pants, and take off your socks
  • A cordless or cellular telephone

Bathroom set-up

Raising the toilet seat height will keep you from flexing your knee too much. You can do this by adding a seat cover or elevated toilet seat or a toilet safety frame. You can also use a commode chair instead of a toilet.

You may need to have safety bars in your bathroom. Grab bars should be secured vertically or horizontally to the wall, not diagonally.

  • DO NOT use towel racks as grab bars, they cannot support your weight.
  • You will need two grab bars. One helps you get in and out of the tub. The other helps you stand from a sitting position.

You can make several changes to protect yourself when you take a bath or shower:

  • Put non-slip suction mats or rubber silicone decals in the tub to prevent falls.
  • Use a non-skid bath mat outside the tub for firm footing.
  • Keep the floor outside the tub or shower dry.
  • Place soap and shampoo where you do not need to stand up, reach, and, or twist

Sit on a bath or shower chair when taking a shower:

  • Make sure it has rubber tips on the bottom.
  • Buy a seat without arms if it is placed in a bathtub (versus a shower stall)

Keep tripping hazards out of your home

Make sure the path into your house is clear of snow, leaves, garden tools, and any other items. If you park the car in the garage, clear the pathway to the car of all garbage and tools.

DO NOT carry anything when you are walking around. You may need your hands to help you balance.

Keep tripping hazards out of your home.

  • Remove loose wires or cords from areas you walk through to get from one room to another.
  • Remove loose throw rugs.
  • DO NOT keep small pets in your home.
  • Fix any uneven flooring in doorways.
  • Keep corridors clear so it's easier to get around.

Pets that are small or move around may cause you to trip. For the first few weeks you are home, consider having your pet stay elsewhere (with a friend, at a kennel, or outside in the yard).

Have good lighting.

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Review Date: 8/9/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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