Planning ahead for your years of retirement is not only extremely practical, but quite necessary given our ageing population. More often than not it’s entirely possible to tweak your existing home and remain where you are into old age. Here are a number of practical ways to prepare your home. Be it for wheelchair use, simply easier and safer access to your home, precautionary measures or larger adjustments to accommodate nursing.
Customising your space to avoid the stairs
Having a complete bathroom and small bedroom on the ground floor is the best solution to not having to maneuver the stairs, though this isn’t a small change it will bring the most comfort and safety long term. Focus on designing this bathroom in terms of capacity for a wheelchair for both the layout and bathing abilities. Another benefit to putting this in place as a precautionary measure is you can make it as fitting to your home as possible, as opposed to it looking out of place or clinical. Having a home that’s comfortable, attractive and safe is possible at any age or ability level, especially when planning ahead.
Easy garden access and outside safety
If you have a garden and access to it is a step or stairs you may want to consider some basic decking or ramp to eliminating the hazard of steps, especially in colder months along with movement-sensored lighting. That way any walking aid or wheelchair will have no barrier to the garden. If decking isn’t possible, add a sturdy handrail and non-slip surface to walk on so access is safer at least. The pathway to your front door should also be looked at, is the walking surface loose or uneven? If so, replace with flat pavement and have the paths swept of debris regularly. Portable ramps are a good temporary measure if you need to make the changes quickly. Dependant on your particular access to your home, needs and budget, another option is installing a weather enduring lift if you know a wheelchair is used or likely to be in time.
Multileveled work surfaces coupled with reachable switches and power sockets are the first changes that are easy enough. In some cases it’s both safer and easier to use a lap tray for preparing food. Alternatively a pull-out chopping board might work well as well as installing a lower cabinet. On that note purchase a smaller, more accessible fridge for your most used items, positioned at the best level for your needs. That way you, a loved one or a carer can move the needed items there. Dependant on your needs level another option is to create a mini-kitchen within this space, with all the needed things in one spot.
Safety adjustments to your bathroom
This is a main change to prioritise safety wise, as there is more chance of a fall in this space. Aside from the already touched upon space considerations for both a wheelchair and a potential carer. Remove the door and use a curtain for privacy. Put in place extra handles where you see fit, anti-slip flooring in particular ones you can stick down as opposed to mats, especially where you bathe. Consider also making the taps easier, there are many alternative levers that make it simple and a raised toilet with easy grip handles either side is worth investing in.
Tackling the stairs and simplifying your space
In terms of a staircase adding a handrail is a must, if needed a stairlift is extremely useful and though it can be a more expensive solution it is one that’s worth the investment. Rearrange your furniture, removing anything non-essential as this will free up so much space. In particular large pieces of furniture become a problem in terms of accessibility, so think less ‘stuff’ in exchange for instant space. Another common hazard is rugs, remove them and never use a waxed cleaning product for the flooring.
This will be an element to address in each room. When it comes to hallways and darker areas of your home, you may want to consider low voltage lighting that remains on, especially at night, your walk way to the bathroom from your bed is the most dangerous. Lights preferably on a timer are best so you are never in a situation where you could stumble. It is recommended that the kitchen and bathroom be the best lit. When it comes to windows, it’s advisable to clear the surrounding space and if opening them becomes difficult you can have easy grip handles installed. Additionally, if you find drawing the curtains a daily challenge it may be worth considering power operated alternatives.
If you are looking for care, Care Sourcer’s free service offers a searchable directory of local care agencies. If you need care urgently, our team of care experts are also available by telephone to guide you through the process.