Making your house suitable for an elderly relative doesn’t need to cost a lot or involve big building jobs, but a few measures can make their lives more comfortable, safer and give them back a sense of independence. Thinking critically about your house and its appropriateness for family members with limited mobility can help prevent accidents.
Getting Around Stairs
The most obvious challenge to a family member with limited mobility is the stairs. Where possible you should think about building a bedroom downstairs to meet the needs of an elderly relative. A basement conversion or extension could be the answer to helping them avoid the stairs on a daily basis. Otherwise stairs can be made safer by installing a secure handrail and ensuring that the floor-surface is non-slip. Stairlifts are also becoming increasingly affordable and you could be eligible for a means tested grant to help pay for installation. A stair lift, however, is only suitable in houses that have enough space and note that a stairlift on a curved staircase needs to be customised therefore will cost considerably more.
How can I help increase mobility around the house?
When considering the safety of the elderly around the house look for slippery surfaces and trip hazards, all floors should be slip-resistant. If your elderly relative suffers from arthritis then replace doorknobs with levers as they are easier to open. Lighting is also important, make sure areas such as the stairs and entrances are well-lit and light switches should be illuminated so that they can be found easily.
How can I make my bathroom suitable for an elderly relative?
The bathroom can be the source of many accidents considering the logistics of getting in and out of the bath, slippery surfaces and the involvement of water. To ensure the safety of your elderly relative install rails on either side of the bath, toilet and within the shower and always use a slip-prevention mat. For more serious mobility problems you could consider a walk in bath or a sit-down shower.
How can home automation help the elderly?
Home automation can help increase the safety of an elderly relative, particularly within their own home. These consist of automated timers and alerts that can control lighting, motion sensors, environmental controls and emergency assistance systems. You may wish to invest in a smart home system if you are concerned about the safety of a relative living alone; it allows personal freedom but gives you the reassurance that help is mere minutes away.
Getting older doesn’t mean that your lifestyle has to change or that you have to move out of your own home, but it does mean that more care needs to be taken to prevent accidents. If you have an elderly relative living with you or if you are making the house of a relative safer, then you need to consider potential hazards and simple installations that can make mobility, and therefore their life, easier and more enjoyable.