You are lucky enough to still have your grandparents and other elderly relatives round, it’s highly likely that as they age they will need adjustments made to their home to allow them to live independently. My Grandad on my Mum’s side unfortunately needed additional care and lives in a care home, but my Nan is still living at home, albeit with the aid of my little sister, who is basically an unpaid leave in carer. We’ve made several adjustments to my Nan and Grandad home over the years to allow them to hold onto a certain amount of independence, and I thought I would share some of them with you today to give you an idea of how you can assist your own elderly relatives.
One of the best things that we did was installing stair lifts in my Nan and Grandad’s home. Prior to this, my Nan was more or less confined to the upstairs of the house as she is partially sighted and suffers with significant mobility issues. The only bathroom in the house is upstairs and trying to move her between the upstairs and downstairs of the house every time she needed the loo wasn’t hugely practical, nor was taking away her dignity by making her use a commode in the living room. Now that she has a stairlift, getting her up and down the stairs is safe and simple and means that she has the ability to move around the whole house without needing too much extra assistance.
When I was a kid, my Nan’s bathroom was the typical “shower over the bath” type of bathroom, which was great for able-bodied people, but not so much for people who can’t clamber over the edge of a bathtub. A few years back, Nan and Grandad had their bath removed altogether and a flat wetroom style bathroom installed. This means that the whole room is on one level and it makes assisting an elderly person with their washing is a lot simpler.
Part of making sure a home is safe for elderly relatives is adjusting their set-up. If a home navigates like a maze, your parents are going to have a hard time getting around. Especially if they’re in a wheelchair or using a walker for assistance. That means rearranging furniture to create more space for them to move around. If you can, move couches as close to the walls as possible, keeping any end tables at either side. Any raised thresholds should be accompanied by grab bars or railings, and make sure the flooring is even and slip-proof. Once again, area rugs are not ideal as they can become hazardous to those with limited mobility.
Changes to Your Flooring
While we’re on the subject of rugs, thinking about flooring in the home of elderly relatives is also vitally important. Slippery surfaces inside a home are often a cause of accidents, so all flooring inside the house must be made slip-resistant. Remember, tripping is as dangerous as slipping, therefore, remove tripping points, such as thresholds, wherever possible. When you cannot remove them entirely, at least reduce their height. For the seniors who use walkers, add low pile carpeting so the walker doesn’t catch on the deep pile and cause a fall.
Ensure There’s Plenty of Light
By age 75, most people require twice as much light as the normal recommended standard, and nearly four times as much as a 20-year-old, to see satisfactorily. This is especially true for people with dementia. Dark spots or areas in a room can appear ominous and confusing to the brain. Providing nice, bright spaces will help ease the mind and provide a clearer understanding of surroundings. In my case, my Nan has glaucoma, meaning she has tunnel vision and darkened rooms can play havoc with her ability to see anything.