Home Modifications for the Elderly
Watching a beloved friend or relative age is never easy. There may come a time when they struggle to manage as well as they once did - simple tasks such as getting up and down stairs or having a shower become increasingly difficult with age. As much as we’d all love to provide round-the-clock assistance for our treasured ageing loved ones, it’s not always possible due to work and family commitments. However, there are home adaptations and modifications to consider that may make your loved one’s twilight years a lot more comfortable and manageable.
These home modifications are also applicable when considering care and retirement homes. Look out for these expert adaptations so you can rest assured your loved one will be in good hands.
Stairs can pose significant risks to those with limited mobility, causing over 60% of accident-related deaths among the elderly. Unfortunately, relocating to a bungalow may not be a viable option for every individual. Even if moving to a one-storey property is the long-term plan, your elderly loved one should be able to access every room of their current house comfortably and safely, which can be made possible with the addition of a bannister or stairlift.
Walk In Shower or Wet Room
Wet, slippery surfaces are highly dangerous for elderly and disabled people who struggle with mobility and balance. Cluttered bathrooms, loose mats and poor design choices, including sharp edges, can result in disaster. A spacious walk-in shower cubicle or wet room equipped with slip-resistant flooring makes getting in and out of the shower quick and simple, so your loved one doesn’t have to relinquish any of their independence.
Ramps and Step Rails
Many properties feature steps to access the front door, which can be troublesome for wheelchair users and the elderly. While ramps and sloped pathways are required for commercial buildings, they can also be added to private properties to provide access to those with limited mobility. Additionally, you may want to consider installing a rail to aid balance and provide support.
On the subject of rails, they may be required throughout the home. Adding grab rails to key points around the home can significantly reduce the risk of fall-related injuries. Often made of plastic with additional grip, these rails can be installed wherever needed, such as on either side of a shower seat or by the front door. They should always be placed at a height where they can be reached easily and comfortably.
Nurse Call System
Nurse call systems are primarily used by care homes and medical facilities to visually and audibly alert medical staff when needed. They must be simple to use and easily accessible to both patients and staff members. By law, all residential care and nursing homes must be equipped with a nurse call system, so when choosing a suitable residence with your elderly friend or relative, look out for these essential safety features.
Many elderly and disabled people report feelings of anxiety and insecurity when home alone. A great way to add extra security to any property is with the addition of a doorbell video intercom system. Once installed, these systems allow two-way communication between the resident and whoever is at the door, often saving any footage to Cloud storage as a safety precaution.
As well as access ramps, many commercial buildings feature widened doorways to accommodate wheelchair and mobility aid users. The average wheelchair cannot fit through a lot of door thresholds, particularly PVC doorways, due to awkward ledges. To combat this, many accessible homes feature widened doorways, but it is possible to widen interior doorways within any home - fortunately, the process is relatively quick, simple and affordable.
Another issue many wheelchair users face is insufficient access to countertops to prepare food and clean. Opting for lowered countertops will likely be a complex and expensive undertaking, as it involves ripping out and replacing the existing kitchen counters. However, being able to prepare meals and care for yourself is a substantial part of self-sufficiency - granting your loved one a reasonable level of independence is worth any home adaptation, big or small.