As we move into our senior years, we can become less agile and mobility can become challenging. You or a loved one may be struggling with the stairs or finding it difficult accessing other areas of the home. Many products, and that includes those which focus on home adaptations, now have much more emphasis placed on the way they look so consequently, they feel less like medical equipment and more like something created for use in the home. This advance in product design, when applied to assisted living, means that many later living solutions now blend in perfectly with our home décor.
Benefits of home adaptations
Home adaptations can help us to continue enjoying our daily living activities, prevent falls and injuries, improve confidence, self-esteem and overall health and wellbeing. The right home adaptations can also prevent or delay the need for home care or residential care. Home adaptations are there to help us remain in the home we love, living safely and independently close to our support network.
Throughout the pandemic, falls have remained the leading cause of emergency hospital admissions for older adults. But it is not just about the time spent in hospital as a result of a fall which is of concern. It can also have a significant impact on our confidence and long-term health, with a number of us ultimately unable to return home after hospitalisation. Falls within the home can be largely avoided with the use of appropriate home adaptations.
Most popular home adaptations
Initially we may only require simple changes such as the fitting of handrails or steps to access the property from outdoors. Another common adaptation involves support with moving between floors as stairs can often prove a risk in the home. Below are some of the most common simple home adaptations which can assist with independent living:
- Handrails – fitting grab bars and handrails around the home, particularly near the access into the property or in the bathroom, can help to avoid trips falls and injuries.
- Bathroom adaptations – installing a walk-in shower or bath can remove the stress of slipping or falling in the bathroom, especially on a wet floor.
- Half steps or ramp – to assist when stepping in and out of a doorway.
- Improved lighting – Inadequate lighting around the home can be a hazard. Install brighter lights where needed, particularly in stairways and narrow hallways. Night lights in bedrooms and bathrooms can also be an advantage.
- Motion sensor lights – these can be used in any room of the house and come on automatically so you won’t have to fumble for a light switch in the dark.
If using the stairs starts to feel unsafe, a home lift can be the ideal solution. It can be fitted almost anywhere, without affecting the staircase for others, so moving between floors is stress-free and the risk of a fall is no more. Today there are modern home lifts available which are more attractive than the old fashioned ‘box-like’ through floor lifts previously available. Home lifts from Stiltz for example offer a discreet design with no bulkly liftshaft – just two simple self supporting vertical rails and a lift car that runs off a standard wall socket. Quiet electric motors have replaced noisy hydraulic and lots of safety features provide peace of mind. Blending with our decor, home lifts such as the Duo+ and Trio+ can also help us can carry heavy items between floors, such as the washing basket or vacuum cleaner, making sure simple everyday tasks remain possible
Ageing in Place
When planning home adaptations, we should always look to the future. If the desire is to age in place, and remain in our home for the foreseeable future longer-term adaptations can be considered. One such mid to long-term adaptation item could be installation of a Home Lift from a provider such as Stiltz Homelifts. This product can be fitted with an in-car seat and interior grab rails if needed, which will provide increased security for users. Wheelchair-accessible models are also available. In comparison to a stairlift, a home lift provides longevity, whereas a stairlift could be unsuitable and become unusable, if a condition were to progress. A lift is also far more flexible in terms of where you can position it.
Adding value to the home
When planning home adaptations, it is important to choose options which will add value to your home instead of risking a lower resale value. A home lift is one such product that has much greater general appeal to prospective purchasers, Although we may plan to continue living in our home, there may come a point in the future where it is necessary to sell relatively quickly. Choosing adaptations that add value financially and in terms of perception, is a smart step.
Saga – How to make your home more accessible.
Age UK – Information guide – Adapting your home.
If you need further advice, you can speak with an Occupational Therapist who will be able to carry out an assessment and recommend the right solutions. You can find an Occupational Therapist on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website.