As we age, there is nothing more comfortable psychologically than being in the same house that we have been since many years. There is a feeling of belonging, of knowing where what is, of having some trusted neighbours, and so on. However, it is also true that as we age, we become less flexible and mobile with more chances of falls and may need assistance with certain activities. So, to live independently at your own house, seniors have to do some changes which we will cover in this article.
Often, kids request their parents to leave behind their home, city, or country to come and stay with them to take care of their parents. However, this is not an easy option for most parents. They prefer to continue living in their own house. So, the key is to make the house more senior-friendly. There is also the need to make homes more secure. And in today’s times, this is not a difficult task.
What are the Changes?
The structure of the house will need an assessment to understand some aspects. You could start by asking some questions.
- Are doorways wide enough to allow wheelchairs to pass through if required?
- Are the stairs narrow or steep, or do they allow for easy movement with something to grab on?
- Are the toilet seats the right height for you?
- Do you have grab bars in the bathroom and corridors so you can move freely and grab on, if they slip up?
- Are some furniture not as comfortable as earlier?
- Can furniture placement be changed for convenience?
- Are the heights of kitchen cupboards and counters an issue?
- Is the placement of electric switches easily reachable?
- Do the door knobs need a change from the round to the ones that can be more easily gripped?
- Are the doors and windows secured enough? Can a video security system improve safety aspect?
When you inspect the complete home, many points come up for discussion. You could always consider taking the help of experts like Samarth who can help do a home safety audit and then set up what is required.
Make Possible Changes
You may not have to break down walls or make significant changes to your home, which can be traumatic and expensive. Discuss with your near and dear ones and create a list of must-have changes.
The must-haves could be:
- Bathroom changes.
- Grab bars wherever needed.
- Video-security and alarm systems.
- Plumbing and electrical changes.
The plumbing and electrical changes can be minimal to ensure that you have at least one or two switches fixed where you need them most. You may also want night lights in the bedroom and bathroom, etc. You could use bath chairs and anti-skid mats to ensure safety in bathrooms. Did you know that changing door knobs from round ones to flat ones can make it easier for people with arthritis issues to grab them better? These are the minimal changes you can make.
If you have the resources and option to do so, you could consider switching over to smart lighting systems that are highly intuitive. Also, ensure that you eliminate or move furniture with pointed edges out of the way, especially for cots. Either change your cots to senior-friendly ones or install side rails for your cots, as falls from beds are a common cause of fall injury among seniors. Furniture should be kept minimal and functional. For example, chairs could be ergonomically designed or easy chairs that aid their back while watching TV. Sofas should not be too low.
If using stairs is a must, and there is no option of lifts, then you can consider installing stair lifts. If the steps are steep and narrow, install rails throughout to ensure they can be safe while using the stairs.
Create a Network
Apart from the physical changes within the house, it is also essential to ensure that there is a trusted and known network to get chores done. For example, maids, drivers, isthiriwaallas, etc., should ideally have their backgrounds checked to ensure they are safe for providing entry into your house. You could tie up with some agencies that take care of this aspect. If you are not fully mobile, you could set up weekly grocery and vegetable deliveries from the local shops or online or have the maid do the grocery runs. Switch to online banking to avoid bank visits unless necessary. Make yourself tech-savvy to the extent that you can conduct most errands online. Seek help from trusted people to do any chores out of the ordinary, like painting your house, or getting some plumbing done, etc.
With a little initial effort, it is not tough to continue living independently in our own house. Assess and decide on the changes you want for the home and ensure satisfactory completion.