Home alterations for the elderly
Are you planning to make your home more comfortable or just preparing for the future? Either way, it is not really as easy as it sounds because sometimes, your need might change and this will make you go back to the sketch board ― re-planning.
The first step to achieve a comfortable home is to determine what you really need and also your health condition. These are the things that dictate the required changes in your home.
Getting safely in and out of the home
With minor changes, you can make your getting in and out of your home easier without the need of calling for help or falling over every time.
- If there are steps to your front door, fix a handrail or ramp.
- Change doorknobs and faucets to a lever handle for easy control. You control with your whole hand instead of your fingers.
- Add an outdoor light in case you might need to use the door at night.
Answering the Door
If you find it inconvenient to check who is at the door and letting them in, you can seek the assistance of a family member to get and help install any of the following;
- Wireless doorbell to signal the presence of anyone at the door.
- Smart door lock. Some have video access incorporated that helps you to see and speak to who is at the door. You can also open the door with a tap on your mobile device.
- Key safe at the door to allow family members to open the door themselves.
Moving Around the House
It is your home and this is likely the place you have lived most time of your life. Age should not deter you from moving around as you use to. The following tips will make you safer;
- Change rugs to lighter aesthetics. The edges of rugs can make you trip easily and so also is when it bunches up, you may trip too.
- Get the rooms well illuminated. You may install motion-sensor lights which switch on when you enter a room. Or smart lights that can be controlled with your device or voice command.
- Re-arrange the house. Get organizational products to store things placed at a higher height to avoid the need for using a ladder or chair to reach.
- Widen door frames and could change doors opening direction for easy access especially if you will be using a wheelchair.
- If the room looks stuffy, re-arrange and get rid of unnecessary things. If that doesn’t solve the problem, consider extending the space. Contact an expert for that such as a surveyor or architect.
- Add more bannister rail or stairlift if you will be getting up and down the stairs. If your home can accommodate a through-floor wheelchair lift, you may install it if you will be using a wheelchair or have a visiting relative with one.
Getting Out of Bed and Chair
In instances you may find it uneasy to get out of your bed and/or chair, you may;
- Add raisers to increase their height to avoid bending far.
- Change chairs to powered riser-recliner and use specialists beds that allows change of height.
Using the Bathroom
The bathroom offers more hazard than most places in the home. It is easy to slip over on its smooth surface. With age, bathtubs become too high to step over. For better safety, you may;
- Install grab bars at strategic places on the bathroom wall to avoid falling.
- Include a shower chair or bench in the bathroom to avoid standing while bathing.
- Design your bathroom into a hands-free type to get washed and dried automatically without doing anything.
- Buy a long-handled sponge/brush to make cleaning yourself or the shower easier.
- Use battery-powered baths which lifts and support weight as you get in and out.
- Install baths with a side opening to allow easy access.
- Use a safety plug that controls the water level in the bath to avoid over-filling.
- Use a rubber or adhesive non-slip mat.
Dressing up can also be tedious as navigating the dangers of the bathroom. It may require much bending which your body does not find friendly anymore;
- Use easy-reach grabbers to pick up things.
- Long-handled shoehorn can be used to pick shoes.
- Get all your apparel and other items well organized to avoid combing through piles of clothes.
Using the Toilet
For the ease of using the loo, you may;
- Raise the toilet a few inches.
- Add a grab bar or security pole for extra support when sitting or want to get up.
- Use a bidet to easily get cleaned and avoid twisting.
Safety in the Kitchen
Since you will still need to continue making your renown dishes, consider the following tips;
- Use a kettle tipper to tilt kettle and avoid lifting.
- A spike board can be used to cut or peel vegetables with a hand.
- Trolley to convey food and drinks around the house.
- Ensure the kitchen is well illuminated.
- Replace heavy pots, cups and pans with two-handled and light alternatives.
- Include openers for tin, bottle and jar in your kitchen equipment.
- Use flat surfaces on the kitchen counter and cooktops. They allow easy sliding of pots and pans instead of lifting.
- Store dishes and glassware in low drawers.
- Don’t forget a perching stool for extra support to your weight.
Dealing with Your Health Conditions
Install a medical alert system in your home to automatically alerts required authorities for any emergency in the house, especially when you are unable to call for help. Other things you can do for easier living and safety include;
- Sight Problems: Put coloured tape on strategic places like stairs, switch location and doorknobs to easily move around and locate places in your home.
- Hearing Problems: Install smoke alarms to safeguard yourself against fire. You can also consider the use of a sounder beacon to notify you when your phone rings or doorbell sounds. A voice-based or text-based phone will also come in handy.
- Memory Problems: Attach small item locator tags to things such as key so that the tag can beep and flash wherever it may be when you press a button on the locator.