7 articles Tag mobility

5 Tips for Getting a Stairlift on a Budget

It can be a huge worry if you have an elderly parent or relative who is starting to have mobility difficulties and is struggling with their stairs. Getting a stairlift installed could enable them to use their stairs safely again, without the risk of injuring themselves in a fall. However, although buying a stairlift can work out significantly cheaper than moving house or having building work done to adapt the ground floor, the price can still be daunting for people on a low income. Here are some ideas on how to make getting a stairlift more affordable.

1. Consider a Reconditioned Stairlift

Purchasing a reconditioned stairlift can be a much cheaper option than buying a brand new one. Reconditioned stairlifts are second-hand models that have been pre-owned by someone else and then refurbished to ensure they are in full working order. Many stairlift companies sell reconditioned straight and curved stairlifts at a significant discount. With this option you can save money but still get the benefits of a guarantee and professional installation on a new track. A word of caution though – be wary of buying a used stairlift from a private seller, as you will have no guarantee it is safe to use.

2. Look at VAT Relief

Older people aged over 60 can get a stairlift at a reduced rate of 5% VAT (compared to the standard rate of 20%). This can help lower the price. If the person who needs the stairlift meets HMRC’s criteria of being “chronically sick or disabled” and is buying it for their own personal use they may be eligible to pay no VAT at all (0%). To benefit from this saving, it is important to ask the stairlift supplier for a “User VAT Declaration” form before making your payment, to make sure they apply the zero rating.

3. See if You Can Get a Disabled Facilities Grant

Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) are means-tested grants for home adaptations that are provided by local councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The amount of money that the stairlift user might get as a grant towards the cost of a stairlift will depend on their household income and savings. Not everyone will qualify for a DFG and you will need to contact your relative’s council to apply. If they live in a rental property, they can request that their landlord applies on their behalf. Bear in mind there are certain conditions to being awarded a DFG and it can take several months to find out if your application has been approved or not.

4. Investigate Financial Assistance from Charities

Another source of financial aid that you may be available to your relative is a grant from a charitable organisation. Turn2us is a nationwide charity that can check which welfare benefits your relative is entitled to and help find any grants they are eligible for to finance a stairlift. There is a useful Grants Search tool on their website. Other charities that can help those in financial need include Independence at Home and the ACT Foundation, so you may also want to contact them for advice.

5. Consider Renting a Stairlift

In some situations, it can be more economical to rent a stairlift rather than buy one. Several companies offer rental stairlifts for which the user is charged a monthly fee. It really depends on your circumstances as to whether hiring a stairlift is a cost-effective option. Generally, renting a stairlift only works out cheaper if the user will only require a stairlift for a short time, such as during recovery from an operation or illness.

A stairlift can make a big difference to a user’s independence by enabling them to move freely between the floors of their home and keeping them safe on the stairs. As you can see, there are various ways to reduce the cost of installing a stairlift for people on a tight budget. If you’re concerned about an elderly relative struggling with the stairs, it is worth exploring all the options to see if a stairlift is an affordable solution.

Helping an Elderly Relative to Stay Independent

There comes a time in a lot of people’s lives where they need to start making arrangements to help their elderly relatives. A lot of people get older but want to remain in the home they’ve known for decades, and that means making their environment safe and suitable for their additional needs, if they have limited mobility, sight or memory problems. There are lots of ways that you can make a home suitable again, and today we’re looking at five of them.

Stairlift

If your elderly relative lives in a house with more than one storey, getting up and down the stairs can be really daunting. As well as the physical effort needed to climb the stairs, the risk of a fall gets worse as they get older. This is where a stairlift could really help. It allows people to travel safely between floors without the risk of falling, or needing to expend a lot of energy to make the climb.

Alarm System

A lot of elderly people worry about having a fall in their home and not being able to call for help, so personal alarm systems can give a lot of peace of mind. They allow people to call for help in an emergency and an ambulance to be sent remotely so that they aren’t left by themselves in an emergency.

Walk-in Bath

Although showers can be built on floor level so that you don’t need to step up to get into them, many elderly people prefer the security of sitting down in a bath, although getting into one can be very tricky. A walk-in bath has a sealed door which opens and closes and allows people to sit comfortably to wash, reducing the risk of slipping and falling when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Video Doorbells

Many elderly people fear opening the door to an unknown person, especially once the sun has gone down, and this can leave them very isolated, especially in the winter. There are lots of video doorbells on the market now which allow people to see who’s at the door without needing to answer it, and this could give your elderly relative the freedom to know when it’s safe to answer the door.

Remove Obstacles

This is the simplest, and cheapest way, to make surroundings safer for your elderly relative. Thousands of accidents happen every year when elderly people, especially those with limited eyesight, trip and fall because of things like rug edges, electrical cords and low items of furniture. It could be a good idea to get an expert to come in to assess the house as they’ll spot hazards that you might miss.

Keeping Your Elderly Relatives Independent

If you’ve ever had an elderly relative, it’s likely that you’ll know about the struggle to keep them mobile and independent in their own homes. It’s quite rare for someone to willingly move to an assisted living facility, and often they’ll want to stay in their own home for as long as possible, so finding mobility aids to help them is really important for both their safety and your peace of mind. Here are a few things which can help:

Riser Chairs

When you’re able bodied, you don’t realise how difficult just the act of sitting down and standing up can be, but once you lose strength and stability in your legs, it can be really daunting. It’s possible to buy reclining armchairs which also have a mechanism which lifts you up into an almost standing position and then lowers you back down when you want to sit again, and they can be an absolute godsend for people with mobility issues.

Mug Holders

If your elderly relative lacks strength in their hands or wrists, something as simple as trying to have a cup of tea can not only become tricky, but also downright dangerous as the risk of getting a lap full of boiling water increases. Mug holders allow you to slip a normal mug into an external casing which provides you with an extra handle to hold, allowing you to safely hold a mug with two hands, increasing your strength and stability. You can also buy two-handled teapots!

Bedrails

For many reasons, as people get older, their risk of falling out of bed gets higher, which can not only be dangerous but also feel daunting and demoralising. Bed rails may make a bed look a little clinical but they’re a great way to make bedtime safe again, and can even improve the quality of sleep that your elderly relative will get because they’re safe in the knowledge that they won’t fall out of bed again.

Bathroom Rails

Being able to bathe independently is often the thing that elderly people want to maintain more than any other aspect of living, probably because washing yourself is such a personal thing. Installing rails around the bathroom to help them to get in and out of the bath or shower can mean that your elderly relative is able to be more steady on their feet while washing, and reduces the need for help from someone else, increasing the level of dignity that they maintain.

Gardening Tools

It’s all well and good being able to get around the home, but most people want to maintain a sense of normality outside of the home too, and for many thins means being able to continue to maintain their garden. There are gardening tools available with enhanced grips to make them easier for people with mobility issues to hold, and being able to do a little bit of gardening can have a massive effect on a person’s mental wellness.

Making Life Easier with Mobility Issues

According to figures from disability charity Scope, there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK who are living with some form of disability. This obviously covers a range of people, from those with mobility issues, right the way up to those who are profoundly disabled; the most commonly reported impairments by disabled people are:

  • Mobility (52%)
  • Stamina, breathing, fatigue (38%)
  • Dexterity (27%).

I have several friends who suffer with a range of mobility-effecting illnesses, so I thought I’d turn to them to give you some tips on how to make your day-to-day life easier if you struggle with mobility issues. My friend Jeni, who suffers with hypermobility and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, offered a HUGE amount of tips:

Pace Yourself

Break tasks into smaller chunks, small enough that you stop before you get tired.

Perching stool in the kitchen

Essential for cooking meals and washing up.

Tassimo/hot water machine

Standing waiting for a kettle to boil is sooooo tiring by when you’re suffering with fatigued muscles from overdoing it. This makes life easier!

Cooking potatoes/pasta in a chip basket inside a saucepan

saves you lifting and moving with a hot pan of water as it drains as you lift the basket and you can leave the water to cool.

Having “green” activities spread through the day

Red activities are heavy duty, amber is tolerable, and green are restful-ish. e.g. Red would be hoovering, Amber would be cooking and green would be watching a film with the kids or knitting. By having green activities every so often in the day, you give yourself a break!

Also, take your time when deciding on a car; consider height, weight of steering, accessibility, as well as fuel consumption. Can you get a wheelchair in the boot?

Borrow a wheelchair

You can hire them from the red cross so you can get out and about if you need to. Mary from Keynko had one for 10 weeks for a donation of £30.

Listen to your body

It’s about learning what you can do accepting that. Rachel from Rachel in Real Life said “So it was my sister’s wedding day on Sunday. I usually work Mondays but obviously it was a bank holiday and I also suspected I wouldn’t be able to work today so I’m making up the hours on Thursday. I slept most of yesterday and today. I’m still in pain and tired now. Remember to take pain relief at the right times, don’t wait to feel the pain. I’d recommend pain management program. It was really quite helpful and enabled me to meet others who struggle with chronic pain and mobility issues.”

My friend Kerry says: “I have a walking stick for general daily use (I try not to use it sometimes so I don’t become completely dependant), I have a four wheeled walker for bad days so I can sit in-between walking to the school, and for very bad days I now have a mobility scooter that I bought myself as there are days my legs are agony and I cannot get round to the school. Hot baths with epsom salts for muscle relaxation. Magnesium spray for muscle cramps. I also take a multivitamin and several additional vitamins on top to try ensure I stay as healthy as possible.”

Making Life Easier for the Elderly

I’ve written before about my Grandad John and what an amazing grandad he was, but he was a really remarkable person in a lot of other ways, too. He was intelligent and hard-working, and a great Dad to my Dad and his brothers, but I think his remarkableness really came into its own after my Nan died and his own health deteriorated. He was on his own for over ten years and had to learn to cope with life on his own, but he did it with amazing resilience – although, that’s not hugely surprising for someone who once told me a story about how he accidentally drove an ambulance into a camel in the middle of the Libyan desert! Here’s a few things he used to make his life easier:

Mobility Scooter

Once his eyesight got too bad to drive, Grandad was determined that he wasn’t going to be stuck indoors, so he invested in a Pro Rider Mobility road scooters. It meant that he could still get to the shops to to his grocery shopping, still visit his neighbours and still have a semblance of the independence that he prized so strongly.

Magnifying Glasses

When Grandad’s eyesight started so get bad and his glasses didn’t help as much, he invested in a whole load of magnifying glasses of different types and strengths and they were dotted around the house to help him. They ranged from small handheld ones to a massive one which I think was a surgical grade magnifying glass (like the one Joey stands behind in Friends after Mr. Heckles dies!). They allowed him to read his mail, read the paper and see finer details of things he needed to do.

Large-Number Phone

My Grandad’s house phone had the biggest numbers of any phone I’ve ever seen, which meant that he was able to see the numbers to dial the phone. He had an A4 sheet of phone numbers beside the phone too, and all of the numbers were written in 3-inch high letters!

Vibrating Doorbell

Grandad was hard of hearing even when I was little (I remember being about six and chuckling to myself because he’d turned his hearing aid right down so he couldn’t hear my Nan nagging him!) but as he got older it obviously got worse. He invested in a doorbell which had a little unit he could put in his pocket which vibrated when the bell was rung, so he didn’t even need to be able to hear the bell to know someone was at the door.

Grabbing Stick

This was one of my favourites, but mostly because I liked to grab people’s bottoms with it as they walked past me – Grandad had one of those things that convicts in America pick rubbish up with to help him pick things up off of the floor or grab things which were out of reach and it was really useful once his mobility became restricted.

Do your elderly relatives have any gadgets which make their lives easier? Leave me a comment below.

FETCH!

Another video in our Pedigree Joint Care+ Challenge…I think the title speaks for itself!

Pedigree Joint Care+ Challenge – Week One

Meet Chuck!

Here’s a little video to kick off our six week Joint Care+ challenge, in association with Pedigree. We’ve been sent a six week supply of Joint Care+ to see if it improves our dogs mobility in that time, plus a selection of other goodies such as Chuck’s own rucksack with his name embroidered on it and the kind loan of a flipcam to capture all of our videos as we go along. We’re really excited to get started and see how Chuck gets on.

Getting a bit carried away!