More often than not it’s entirely possible to tweak your existing home and remain where you are into older age. This guide has some practical ways to prepare your home for easier and safer living, including using technology.
If your home is having an impact on your wellbeing, ask for a care needs assessment from the adult social services department of your local authority. You may find you are eligible for free equipment and changes to your home to make it more suitable.
Safety adjustments to your bathroom
This should be one of the areas to prioritise in terms of safety as there is more chance of a fall in this space. Put in place extra handles where you see fit, and if you have porcelain or ceramic tiles on the floor then consider rubber or vinyl anti-slip flooring, especially where you bathe.
Consider also making the taps easier – easy-turn extended lever can help if you with reaching and turning on water. A raised toilet with easy grip handles either side is worth investing in if you need some help with raising and lowering yourself.
Make life easier in the kitchen
If kitchen handles are becoming tricky to grip, you can replace these with easy grip handles, or remove the cabinet doors completely for easy access.
Specially designed for arthritis sufferers or those with a weak or painful grip, Good Grips kitchen utensils feature a large, built-up handle with non-slip qualities making it easy to hold and use: www.completecareshop.co.uk/kitchen-aids/good-grips-utensils/. Buying a kettle tippers, which supports the kettle as it is poured from, means the chances of burns and scalds are greatly reduced.
Improve your home security
If it takes you a little while to reach the front door, or you would like to see who is at your door before you open it, you can buy a smart doorbell. When someone rings your doorbell you’ll also be alerted on your phone or tablet. A built in camera and microphone in the doorbell will let you see and talk to the person outside.
Aside from dissuading criminals, a smart doorbell lets you tell the person at the door that it will take you a little time to reach them, or ask a courier to leave a parcel on your doorstep.
Easy garden access and outside safety
If there are steps or stairs leading to your front door or garden then a painted line at the edge of each step helps you to see where they are. You may even want to consider some basic decking or a ramp to eliminate the hazard of steps, especially in colder months, along with movement-sensored lighting. Portable ramps are a good temporary measure if you need to make the changes quickly. Another option is sturdy handrails and non-slip surface to walk on.
The pathway to your front door should also be looked at if the walking surface is loose or uneven. If so, replace with flat pavement and have the paths swept of debris regularly.
Tackling the stairs and simplifying your space
Adding handrails to any staircases (on both sides) is a step that it’s good to take earlier rather than later. Get rid of any carpet runners as these are a trip hazard, and if the stairs are wooden then add anti-slip stair tape to each step.
The safest way to get up and down stairs is a stairlift and though it can be a more expensive solution it is worth the investment to help you enjoy your home in safety. Stairlifts have a backup battery built in, so if there is a power cut you can still use it.
Large pieces of furniture can become a problem in terms of accessibility and trip hazards, so think about you can best rearrange or simplify your furniture to give you maximum space. Another common hazard is rugs, so it’s best to remove them and never use a waxed cleaning product for the flooring.
Get peace of mind with a in-home alarm
Falling or becoming injured or ill in the home and not being able to get help can be a worry for many people. Telecare systems work by using monitors within the home that can send alerts to a response team or carer.
An easy way to have peace of mind is to wear a person alarm. Depending on the model, personal alarms can be worn around the neck, on the wrist or clipped to clothing, and they have a button on them. When the button is pushed the alarm either makes a loud noise (so needs people nearby who will hear it) or activates an alert that will let a response team know that help is needed. They will alert your emergency contacts and if needed, the emergency services.
There are a range of brands of personal alarm available. When deciding, check if the model is waterproof as slips and falls are more likely in the bathroom.
Other more advanced options are:
- Movement sensors that will know someone is not moving within the home
- Fall sensors, wearable devices that register sudden heavy impact and can raise an alarm
- Chair and bed sensors which monitor pressure, and know if someone has fallen or is not moving
When it comes to hallways and darker areas of your home, you may want to consider low voltage lighting that remains on at night – fitting a timer to lights means they can automatically adjust.
However, make sure stairs are always brightly lit at all times when they are being used, making sure there’s a light switch at both the top and the bottom of the stairs. As we get older, it’s common to get problems with depth perception, which can also make stairs more difficult. Get regular eye tests and if you can, remove bifocal or varifocal glasses as these can distort the perception of the steps.
It is recommended that the kitchen and bathroom always be well 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 becomes challenging it may be worth considering power operated alternatives.
Consider starting some formal care
Professional care packages can start very small – it can be as simple as coming around and having a cup of tea and a chat, helping with the shopping, or helping to tidy up. Read more about the different care types that are available.
Care Sourcer is an entirely free service to help you find all types of social care services, using a searchable online directory of local care agencies.
If you need care urgently, our team of care experts are also available by telephone on freephone 0800 048 8618 to guide you through the process.