I have had the unfortunate experience of having my mum end up in hospital more times than I can remember from cancer and then the effects of cancer. She has always maintained that she would still like to go home after each trip to hospital. She isn’t alone as many other older people are opting for staying at home.
While we were all on the same page we wanted to make sure my mum was able to live independently forever, and that meant we had to look at what changes we needed to make in her home. By implementing home modifications that supported her meant she could maintain her independence. But where on earth do you start?
Below, I have listed some things to consider when you are make home modifications for an elderly relative. It’s a tough time to be doing these kinds of things but with these tips I hope they help you know exactly what you have to do.
- Pay attention to their needs. Particularly if your relative lives alone, you need to understand their needs and what it is that they want. Make a point of staying with them for a while to see how they move about the house and what they are struggling with.
- Form a plan. A good first step in making their home more appropriate is to an assessment. Go through your house, room-by-room, looking for problem areas like potential tripping or slipping hazards, as well as areas that are hard to access and difficult to maintain. For us it was the bedroom and bathroom that needed the most thinking about.
- Consider your budget. If you are making major changes then consider the budget available. For example we needed to get a new bathroom suite so did research. There are many companies out there that will cater for the needs of older people or those with disabilities such as Mobility Plus. We actually ended up opting for a walk in showers that had a seat for my mum to sit down. We choose this because it was within budget and what my mum wanted. I had to do the same for my father in law but he opted for a walk in baths instead.
- Consider using a professional. You may know someone who knows someone who could do the work for you but if you are tight on deadlines and you want it done quickly then consider using a professional to make the changes you need.
- Declutter. This was something I was not prepared for although I should have guessed. Older people often have a lot of stuff! Be prepared to declutter before you do any work. The thing about unnecessary furniture, rugs and knick knaks is that it can cause slips, trips, falls and block clear pathways if they need to use a walker or wheelchair.
- Electric Stair Lifts. Consider using an electric stair lift if there is space. I was very luck in that my mum was on the one level but my father in law had very narrow stairs. There wasn’t room for a stair lift so we ended up getting a lift that went from the dining room to the bedroom through the ceiling. This was so much more convenient and really safe – until the time it got stuck!
- Install non slip floors. We had to make changes to the floors, we took up the carpet and put in rubber floors in the hallway and bathroom. Rubber floors are great because they are very soft and naturally slip resistant not to mention easy to maintain!
- A more suitable bed. Planning was indeed needed for this which we completely forgot about! We had to opt for an adjustable bed because it could raise and lower both the head and foot section. We also had to get rails to place on the bed – just in case.
These are tips I really wanted to share with you to consider if you are having to make modifications for your elderly parent or relative coming out of hospital. I hope they help you in your decision making.