Making your parent’s home safe and accessible can make all the difference if they are starting to struggle around the house. There are lots of simple alterations that can be made to reduce the likelihood of falls or worse, and this guide we hope should help you to make a good start.
One really quick and easy thing to do is to reduce any clutter. Navigating around familiar piles of stuff, dog beds, shoes etc is easy when you’re mobile and have good eyesight. But it’s so easy for the familiar to become trip hazards.
Finding a new home for well- established belongings may be difficult, and then to remember the new home, so it might be worth decluttering slowly and doing it together.
For any of us with ageing eyesight, the need for good and brighter lighting becomes increasingly necessary both inside and outside the house. Look out for specialised lighting solutions which can make all the difference.
Here are our top tips for changes that can be made in rooms around the home.
First things first, non-slip flooring or rubber mats are always a good idea, as well as, lovely bright lighting in all areas of the kitchen. Some people find that having more than just a ceiling light is a great help, such as lights by the sink and over the counter tops. This makes using knives or operating the oven a lot easier and much safer.
If you are able to redesign the kitchen, making the counter tops a different colour from the cabinets also makes it much easier for people with failing eyesight to navigate their way around. Easy to clean countertops, like quartz or granite, are a similarly good idea to reduce levels of housework.
You can also install smart cabinets to make items easier to reach or adding pull out trays to existing cabinets has a similar effect. You may want to consider open shelves instead of cabinets, or by hanging favourite utensils from hooks so they can easily be seen and grabbed.
Brightly coloured cooking utensils can make them even easier to find, and there’s a plethora of gorgeous gifts to choose from nowadays.
A great tip that we really like is to reduce the temperature of the hot water tap to lukewarm, so your relative is less likely to scald themselves at home.
There are lots of things you can do to make the bathroom safer for someone who might be likely to fall or slip. If it hasn’t already been recommended, installing grab rails at home in convenient places (like near to the bath, shower and toilet) is the simplest way to make the facilities easier to use independently.
Using U shaped rails, as opposed to straight rails, can further reduce the chance of slipping as they provide a better grip. You should also note that bolted rails are a much safer option than rails secured by suction cups, which themselves are prone to slipping.
Using non-slip rubber mats on the bathroom floor is another inexpensive precaution you can take to increase safety. Or you could install non-slip tiles throughout the whole bathroom to achieve a more permanent effect.
To make the shower easier to use, you can purchase a shower chair to give the person using it more stability. Increasing the light source in the shower unit is also helpful as lighting levels are often designed for younger eyes. Installing a shower caddy in a convenient place at a convenient height, if you haven’t already, keeps essential shower items close to hand while washing, and reduces the risk of falling or slipping.
Alternatively, if your older relative prefers a bath to a shower, you could install a walk-in bath, with a door and a built-in seat, to prevent falls when getting in and out of a regular bath.
Once again lighting and visibility in the bedroom can be a big issue. Ensuring there are light switches in suitable places, like by the door and next to the bed, is a useful step to prevent them tripping over in the dark.
Also, having a plug-in phone by the bed in case of emergency is also a good idea as it won’t ever be misplaced or run out of battery.
If your relative’s home doesn’t already have a bannister, installing one is a priority. Even getting a double banister, or extra grabrails in convenient places, further reduces the chances of trips and falls. If your relative has extreme mobility issues or a disability, a stair lift might be a good option to make life easier for them.
Good visibility in the stairwell area is also vital so loved ones can see where they are going. Or a simple alternative is adding bright coloured contrast strips to the edge of the steps.
Outdoors & in The Garden
Thinking about safety outside is almost more important than inside as it is harder to get help if someone does fall. Consider installing ramps over any steps leading to the house, particularly up to the front door. Automatic lights are also a good investment outside the home as they will make the pathway visible in the darker hours.
Using paving to level out a garden path, or levelling out any existing paving, will further reduce the likelihood of someone tripping over. It can also be nice to add benches and chairs at regular places in the garden to ensure your relative always has somewhere to rest.
Finally, when the time is right consider hiring a gardener to keep the lawn well maintained. As an alternative, you could replace the turf with artificial grass which is lower maintenance and doesn’t have to be mowed.