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How to adapt your home to accommodate an increased care need

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An increased care need can sometimes change how an elderly person is able to live in their own home. This change can be difficult to accept, but there are plenty of actions you can take around the home that will make their everyday lives a little easier.

Here are some of the changes you can make around the home to accommodate an elderly person with decreased mobility, or the onset of the symptoms of dementia.

Access

To limit risks outside the property, make sure all pathways are firm and level. Think about installing outdoor lights to improve visibility and make icy patches/standing water easier to spot.

If the person is now in a wheelchair, you may wish to speak to an occupational therapist about fitting a ramp.

Inside, attach handrails in the hallways, lower door handles and widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or walking frames.  

Stairs

Depending on a person’s condition and the location of the stairs, you could consider installing a second bannister, making the steps shallower, or fitting a stairlift.     

Another way to approach this is to centralise the most regularly used living space on the ground floor. This might mean moving the person’s bedroom and main bathroom downstairs, but the change can be well worth it in the long-run.

Kitchen

Check the floor to ensure it’s free of clutter and slip-proof in regularly used areas. Your loved-one might also benefit from appliances like a kettle tipper, one-handed chopping board, electronic can opener and specially adapted cutlery.

Access should be another major consideration in the kitchen. Pull-out cupboards and shelves can make things easier to reach, while a lightweight trolley can enable food to be carried between rooms without the risk of being dropped. 

Bathroom

Slick, wet surfaces can be overcome with slip-resistant bath/shower mats and additional handrails. A raised toilet and fitted handrails can make it easier to use, while a lowered sink can be more convenient for people in a wheelchair.

A conventional bath can be changed for a walk-in model, or a bath lift can be fitted to help your loved-one get in and out. Installing a shower cubicle with grab rails is another way of overcoming accessibility challenges. In either case, using a seat or stool can be a useful addition that reduces the risk of a fall.         

Living room

All living space within the house should be cleared of clutter and un-used furniture, while loose rugs and fittings should be secured.

Riser-recliner chairs can make it easier for people with decreased mobility to stand up again. If your loved-one uses a wheelchair, make sure all fittings (such as light switches) can be accessed from a reduced height.  

Bedroom

Many of the same techniques apply as in the living room, but the bedroom does pose some specific challenges.

Fitting grab-railings to a person’s bed can help with access. Speak to an occupational therapist about which product is best suited to your needs. You can also install sensors that monitors whether a person gets up in the night, and sets off an alarm if they haven’t returned within a defined time-frame.  

While you can do much to make a person’s home more accessible, live-in care is the only way to comprehensively assess a care requirement and make sure their needs are fully catered for 24/7. Trust The Good Care Group to empower your loved-one to maintain independence and dignity in their own home.  

Learn more about your unique family history by talking with elderly relatives What steps can be taken towards a cure for dementia?
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