When elderly people require additional support with the tasks of daily living it is typically considered that remaining at home with the help of a carer or a professional home care provider is preferable to residential care. It should also be recognised that basic adaptations to the home can help individuals and couples remain independent for as long as possible.

There are many steps that elderly people can take to help maximise their independence at home, including making use of a wide range of adaptations and equipment available.

Around the Home

Rails can be used to help get up and down stairs - a wall mounted rail can be installed on the opposite side of the bannister and newel rails can be particularly helpful in enabling an elderly person to move around the post at the bottom of the stairs.

Remote control plugs and lighting can help avoid people having to bend down or reach up to turn sockets or light switches on / off.

If you are finding it difficult to access the bathroom at home, a wide range of commodes are available which come in various shapes and sizes and can be folded away for storage purposes if necessary.

In the Bathroom

If you have difficulty getting into or out of the bath a removable bath board can be used. This sits over the bath and is used to transfer over it instead of having to step over the rim.

In the Kitchen

Specialist food preparation boards can be used to make the process of cooking easier and safer. These may have a clamp system to secure food when chopping or bottles and tins when opening. They will also have a non-slip base and spikes to secure fruit and vegetables when cutting.

Summoning Help

Telecare alarm systems can be worn as a pendant either around an elderly person’s neck or on their wrist. This can be used to summon help in the event of a fall or an emergency. If they live with a relative or a carer, a home pager can also be used to alert a carer / relative when they are in another part of the home.

Low Vision and Difficulty Hearing

If you have difficulty seeing objects such as clocks these can be purchased with clear bold displays, a talking time and even a tactile face (i.e. you can feel the position of the hands). Labeling systems can also be used to identify objects around the house - this involves using a portable reader / scanner to touch labels at which point a pre-recorded message will play back stating what the item is.

For somebody who is hard of hearing or deaf home sound indicators can be used to inform them that certain things are happening around the home. This may include the phone ringing, the door bell ringing or a smoke alarm sounding. Sound indicators will flash a strobe or the house lights, or even vibrate a pager worn by the user.

Of course, adaptations to the home cannot replace support from a carer or a professional home care provider, but they can play a major role in enabling individuals remain in the comfort of their own home where independence can be enjoyed to the greatest extent possible.

Author's Bio: 

Oliver Stirk is a Director at Carefound (www.carefound.co.uk) which is a provider of specialist home care and dementia care services to elderly people, enabling clients to continue to live independently in the comfort of their own home whilst maintaining the highest quality of life achievable.

Services provided include basic help in the home, companionship, personal care, medication help, post-operative rehabilitation, respite care and specialist help such as dementia care and palliative care.

The flexible service ranges from 1 hour to 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, including bank holidays, and can also encompass 24-hour live-in care services.