Two years ago at the age of 95 my mom had a stroke. In the course of a few minutes she went from being active and completely independent to wheelchair-bound and entirely dependent on others for care.

My siblings and I were in a tailspin. Insurance covered two weeks at a rehab hospital. Being in an unfamiliar setting wasn’t doing our mom any good. Her mental and physical abilities had taken a severe blow. Physical, occupational and speech therapies were further exhausting her. She wasn’t able to sleep at night as a result of her roommate’s difficulties. She couldn’t sleep days because of therapy. We felt the best path was to get her back home. Our hope was that quieter and familiar surroundings would at least let her sleep.

My mom winters in Florida, and that’s where she was. I was able to get there a few days after she was transferred from the hospital to rehab hospital. I’m the youngest of five. We quickly sorted tasks by ability. My sisters are great organizers and there was a lot to organize. Dealing with insurance, arranging for the delivery of hospital beds, wheelchairs and commodes. Laying in supplies. Lining up home health care, therapy and live-in aides. I spent my days accompanying my mom to her various therapies. Learning how to do transfers from bed to wheelchair to car. Gleaning all I could so we could be an active part in ongoing therapy. Speech, mental, and range-of-motion exercise.

Evenings I spent trying to adapt her house. I didn’t have a clue. I needed to look at the world from a set of abilities different from my own. The only way I could do that was to view the world from a wheelchair. That was an eye-opener. Barriers became readily apparent. I started outside her door and traveled all the routes she would need to. The 2" threshold at the front door might just as well have been Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Adapting her house largely involved getting rid of furniture to create travel space. Finding a table for meals that allowed a wheelchair to pull in. Utilizing curtains to create an alcove for overnight guests, since the guest room was now for a live-in aide. Shelving for supplies.

Take a look at your living space. Can you think of ways to make it work if mobility becomes an issue? Whether it’s your 12-year-old with a broken leg, or you getting a hip replaced, thinking in advance and creating a plan isn’t a bad idea.