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Clever ways to make your home elderly-friendly

Making your home suitable for home care

If you are looking for care for your loved one who is elderly and they do not wish to relocate to a residential care home, they can receive support on a visiting or live-in basis in the comfort of their home. Or you may live with elderly parents or grandparents and want to ensure that there are no obstacles that can increase the risk of injury. Whatever the reason, ensuring your home is suitable for home care is important. This will also make it easier for carers to help support your loved one and ensure their safety is kept intact.

Here are a few tips to allow you to prepare your home before your loved one receives care…

1. Higher Furniture

As we get older, it is natural to spend more time sitting, which is why having suitable furniture is imperative for the elderly. According to the National Library of Medicine, “appropriate seating encourages good postural stability and support while reducing pain, fatigue, venous thrombosis (VT) risk and pressure sores.”  It can further “encourage social interaction, improve respiratory function and intake of food and drink.”

Recliner seats are popular amongst the elderly and can allow them to sit up and down with ease. They can also raise their legs, which can help prevent swollen ankles and encourage better circulation. Higher seating and beds are beneficial too. You don’t want your loved one to be bending down too low, as they may find it difficult to get up again, putting a strain on their legs and ankles. It is also recommended that sofas and mattresses are firm, rather than soft.

Moreover, it will allow your loved one to maintain mobility and independence if they can sit and get up without any help. Encouraging your loved one to do things independently is a huge confidence boost and making small changes like appropriate seating can make a real difference.

2. Rearrange the living room

The living room is where many of us spend most of our time. Whether that’s watching tv, playing a game of chess, or sipping a cup of tea. So, ensuring your living room is suitable is important. If your loved one struggles with mobility and uses walking aids for support, make sure there’s adequate space for them to move around. This space will also allow carers to help assist your loved one with walking aids. This doesn’t mean you’ll need to get rid of your furniture, just try and keep what you need.

The type of flooring can also have an impact on keeping your home elderly-friendly. Whether you have hard flooring or carpet it is important to ensure that your loved one isn’t faced with any hazards that can cause them to trip or fall. This can be rugs or slippery floors. So, when rearranging the living room, it is something to consider.

3. Install high bars and benches in the bathrooms

We understand that some older adults may find it slightly embarrassing when it comes to being accompanied to the toilet. Installing high bars or grab bars in the bathroom can avoid this and also help maintain independence. Placing one by the toilet will provide them with additional support. Also installing one in the shower or bath will allow your loved one to get in and out without any trouble.

You can also mount a foldable bench in the shower, so your loved one can sit and have a shower without worrying about falling over. This will also avoid the hassle of your loved one having to move around a shower seat, as this can be difficult for them to do on their own.

However, before installing any high bars or benches, it is recommended that an occupational therapist assesses all adaptations to ensure suitability and safety. This can be conducted by a social or healthcare provider or a private therapist.  

4. Make your home well-lit

As we grow older, our vision naturally changes and can weaken. Ensuring rooms, hallways and especially stairs are well lit, can allow the elderly to move around the house safely. It will also reduce the risk of falls and injuries.

You can also place a touch-activated lamp by the bedside. Avoid using bedside lamps with switches as there have been incidents of lamps being pulled over during the night. This increases the risk of further injuries such as burns or glass lacerations. So, if your loved one needs to get up during the night to use the toilet, having a touch-activated lamp will make it a lot easier for them to find their way without having the fear of falling.

Using plug-in lights or leaving a dim light on will also make it a lot safer for people with poor vision. It may be worth investing in a smart device. Using technology for voice-activated lights via smart devices is becoming a popular feature amongst the elderly.

5. Set up resting spots

Whether your loved one likes to have a place to themselves, quiet time or just a spot to read, a resting spot can be a viable solution. Or perhaps they have mobility issues and need to sit down from time to time, resting spots can be a great way for the elderly to catch their breath. So, you might want to place a stool or chair in places where they can take a moment to rest.

6. Improve lounging areas

Lounging areas are a great place to relax and put your feet up. If your loved one’s family and friends visit often, ensure that sofas or chairs are facing each other so they can have face-to-face conversations. Make sure there is a coffee table nearby your loved one’s favourite seat, so it’s easy to access things they may need, such as a cup of tea or a TV remote. Also, ensure that there is plenty of room to move around and that it’s free of clutter. So, avoid having overflowing bookshelves and newspapers lying around as these can be a safety hazard.

Page reviewed by Carole Kerton-Church, Regional Clinical Lead on September 28, 2022