For many people, home is somewhere you can feel comfortable and at ease. A sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
But for some people, particularly the elderly, time spent at home can feel frightening, isolating and full of risks and danger. Making home life safer can transform how someone feels about spending time inside and promotes independence, confidence and all-round wellness.
So, what can be done to improve home safety for the elderly?
Considerations For The Elderly
As our bodies age, they often come up against health and mobility issues that need to be taken into account when improving home safety for the elderly.
Let’s take a look at some of the main safety considerations to think about when you’re planning adaptations.
Failing eyesight is a common occurrence as people get older. It happens because of changes to the lens of the eyes as well as the weakening of the eye muscles, and we call this condition presbyopia. Poor eyesight makes focusing on objects up close increasingly difficult, meaning everyday tasks can become challenging.
You’re more likely to develop osteoporosis, a condition characterised by fragile bones that are prone to breaking as you age. This makes reducing the risk of trips and falls key to home safety for the elderly.
As we age, lots of us begin to feel wobbly on our feet. This feeling, and the associated worry about falling, can affect our confidence in moving around the home. Providing support and minimising hazards helps to make travelling through the space safe.
Many common conditions can contribute to mobility problems as we age. Things like joint problems, pain, neurological difficulties and muscle weakness can all come into play to seriously affect mobility. This can make simple actions or tasks, like lowering and raising oneself onto a toilet or chair, incredibly difficult.
So, how can we improve home safety for the elderly? We’re going to look at some key areas that can be addressed for an immediate impact.
The bathroom is one of the rooms in the house where many accidents take place.
There are several reasons for this….
Stepping in and out of the bath or shower cubicle can be difficult to navigate if you’re living with limited mobility, poor eyesight and unsteadiness. These issues can present more problems when you are required to stand for a long time in the shower or whilst brushing your teeth at the basin.
Slippery floors can also be dangerous if you don’t feel steady on your feet, and conventional toilets tend to sit at a height that makes lowering down to and raising from them very painful.
Here are some minor adaptations that have an immediate impact on improving home safety for the elderly in the bathroom.
Easy to install, grab rails can be fixed anywhere in the bathroom to support individuals whilst they perform painful or difficult movements. Horizontal rails beside the toilet help users raise from or lower to a seated position, for example.
Standing for long periods during a shower can be uncomfortable or downright impossible for some users. Shower seats, which allow the individual to remain seated whilst they wash, can fold down from the wall or be portable.
Becoming more popular in our modern homes, lights that turn on or off in response to movement can improve home safety for the elderly. By magically lighting up the room so those with poor eyesight can gauge their surroundings better, motion lights automate a task that might be fiddly or require specific dexterity.
Some bathrooms may also require more significant adaptations to make it as safe as possible for the user, such as…
Level Access Shower
Level access showers don’t have a base tray or any steps. Instead, they are completely level with the bathroom floor. This makes them the perfect bathing solution for wheelchair users and anyone with a limited range of movement and reduces the risk of trips and falls.
Walk In Bath
For people with mobility challenges, stepping into a bathtub is not safe. A walk-in bath has a door that allows the user to get in without negotiating the side of the tub. The door is watertight, and the bath often has an inbuilt seat so that the user can sit comfortably during their experience.
Like the bathroom, the kitchen is another room where accidents are likely to occur. It’s also a room where we like to spend lots of time socialising, so you must consider home safety for the elderly in this space.
Wondering what could be cause for concern in the kitchen? Beyond the obvious sharp implements and open flames, bending and lifting items from floor-level cupboards, pouring boiling water and even opening and operating the oven can all cause accidents in the home.
Kitchen adaptations can be small adjustments but still make a huge difference. For example…
Whether you’re looking for pull-down mechanisms for wall-mounted cupboards that allow wheelchair users to gain access to stored items or pull-out drawers for floor-level cupboards that stop users from having to twist and reach inside, cupboard inserts make existing kitchen storage automatically accessible.
Preparing and cooking food can be a much-enjoyed pastime. To make it more comfortable for your elderly loved one or client, consider adding a perching stool. Perching stools are sloping, padded seats that are adjustable and mean users can semi-sit and rest whilst performing kitchen duties.
Kettle tippers are pouring aids that fit standard kettles and help the user lift and pour the kettle safely. Another option is to purchase a one-cup kettle, a standalone unit that dispenses enough hot water for a single hot beverage, taking away the need for the user to lift or pour at all.
Whilst small changes can transform home safety for the elderly, bigger adaptations like moving cabinets, refiguring the kitchen layout or changing appliances could also help to ensure users stay free from harm, independent and happy in their kitchens.
Mobility Around The Home
Moving around a home can be tricky when your mobility levels aren’t at their highest, and the stairs are one feature which presents the highest risk for elderly users.
If climbing and descending a staircase isn’t a problem, you can still make the process safer by improving stability and visibility by adding LED light strips on the riser of each step and installing additional handrails.
If using the stairs is a risk for elderly users living in the home, a stairlift is a great solution. Running along a rail, the chair of a stair lift enables users to sit comfortably whilst being transported between levels in their homes.
What About Ramps?
If stairs are a problem, you may need to think about installing a ramp externally for thresholds that are hard to get to. There are benefits and drawbacks to consider for all ramp types. Read about them in this blog.
What Are You Doing To Conquer Home Safety For The Elderly?
From small additions to big changes, lots can be done to improve home safety around the whole property.
Need advice on adaptations you’re considering? Not sure where to start or what financial help you might be eligible for? See our website to get in touch. We can help!