Older people can often need a bit more help around the house, if they wish to remain at home, living independently. While many have family members nearby, or even live-in medical help to watch out for them, others do not. Simple tasks, such as walking , climbing stairs and reaching for things can become extremely difficult and even dangerous if the person has restricted mobility and no extra support.
It takes very little time to put a few measures in place to help with the daily routine and maintain the person’s independence for as long as they are able to retain it.
Cut out the obstacle course by eliminating trip hazards and dangerous piles of belongings from around the house. Make sure there is enough storage for items to be put away safely, and check round the house for things like trailing flexes, awkwardly stored boxes and overloaded shelves. What may seem very easy to navigate for an agile twenty-year-old may be a potential disaster for a seventy-year-old.
Make the house even safer by brightening up badly-lit areas and replacing low wattage light bulbs for more powerful, brighter ones. Remove slippery rugs and watch out for smooth tiles and linoleum that could also cause a person to fall over. You might consider having some hard-wearing carpet laid, or installing grab rails in more hazardous areas of the house. Pay careful attention to the bathroom, as this can cause accidents from spilt water turning the floor into an ice rink. Add some sturdy bath mats to make getting in and out of the bath safer.
If climbing the stairs is an issue, consider installing a stair lift for easy ascent and descent between floors. If this is impractical, or unaffordable, the person might like to move their life ‘downstairs’, turning a reception room into a bedroom and having a downstairs bathroom fitted if this facility is not already in place. Invest in a personal alarm system that calls for help if the person falls over, or make sure they are never more than an arm’s reach away from a charged mobile phone.
Other tips to help ease life is to get hold of a wireless headset for the TV, as well as a remote control so that the person can adjust the volume as they wish, without having to move from their chair or disturb other people in the house. Tablet devices are also a great asset, bringing email and the internet right to their lap in a simple, enjoyable way. Many people also enjoy playing on portable gaming devices, or reading books via an electronic reading device. This can also help keep the mind active and alleviate boredom that can lead to stress.
Whatever you do, make sure you involve the person in all decisions, however small. It is, after all, their home and their life and they will not feel the full psychological benefit of any changes if they are forced upon them unwillingly. Some older people might be apprehensive at first about embracing new technology and safety devices, but with the right support, they can enjoy enormous benefits and live a fulfilled life for many years to come.