As we age our bodies start to fail us. It is an inevitable fact of life, but that does not make it easy to bear. Many people get downhearted when they realise they need a stick to walk to the shops or get out of breath climbing the stairs. It is not a pleasant situation but it is one we all have to deal with. And the best way to deal with it is head on and with positivity.
If you have an elderly relative who lives in their own home but is starting to struggle with certain tasks or activities then there is plenty you can do to help them out. Talk to them about what kind of things they are finding difficult, and do so sensitively. It may be hard for them to admit that they need help, but making adaptations to their home is probably the best way to tackle the situation. If they can carry on living in their own home they are likely to be happier and lead a fuller, more independent life. Maintaining self-sufficiency and self-reliance is a big boost to self-esteem and confidence so do help in any way you can.
There are many home adaptations available for elderly people. We’ve picked out some of the key ones, but you can get further advice from a doctor, nurse or social worker.
If stairs become a problem then a stairlift can be a revelation. Moving to a bungalow is not always an option, so a stairlift can allow an elderly person to continue living in their own home. They are not as expensive as they used to be and can be quickly and easily installed. The chair folds away so the stairs can still be used by others.
If your relative has trouble stepping into the bath and there is no room for a separate shower cubicle then a walk-in bath and shower can be installed. These have a seat so there is no need to climb in or stand up when washing.
For those who have problems seeing or hearing or struggle to grip appliances because of arthritis there are all sorts of adapted appliances available. These include things such as mugs with extra large handles, kettles that flash when boiling and telephones with oversized keypads. All these things are simple but can make a huge difference to daily life.
Security and safety
Feeling safe in their own home is of huge importance for elderly people. If they live alone an emergency pull cord that links to a warden service can provide peace of mind. Locks on doors and windows should be secure but easy to operate from the inside in case they need to get out quickly in an emergency.
When deciding what kind of home adaptations your relative could benefit from conduct a home assessment with them. Walk from room to room and have them explain any difficulties they face and re-enact them so you can get a good idea of how best to help.