You have spent your life building up your home so it’s comfortable and suits you, but as you age, your ability to live in your home becomes less easy. It is important to adapt your home and the way you go about life to stay safe and secure and also to maintain a decent quality of life. No one likes to think of growing old but there are ways to adjust your home to your needs as you age.
Downsize Your Home
This can be a heart-wrenching decision. You have probably been in your home for a long time, brought up a family there, and spent your life with your partner. Contemplating leaving a nice three-bed semi for a one-bedroomed bungalow is a difficult decision to make but it does have advantages. A smaller property is cheaper to run, will require less furniture, and be easier to get around – particularly if there are no stairs. There may also be financial benefits such as realizing the equity or proceeds of the sale. It is vital to consult a registered financial advisor before making any decision on selling your home.
Adaptations and Additions
Whether you downsize or choose to remain in your home, there is quite a number of adaptations you can make and equipment you can use to make life easier. It’s a case of deciding which will work best for your needs. It is also not necessary to make all the changes at once. You can adapt your home as your needs change and grow.
Before making decisions about changes, in the UK it is a good idea to contact your local council for a Care Needs Assessment. A social care worker will visit you to assess equipment, adaptations, care, and additional support you need to live at home. Specialist equipment recommended by the assessment team is provided free of charge by the local authority (walking frames, raised toilet seats, etc…) as are any specific recommendations and adaptations that modify your home if they cost under £1,000 (ramps, railings, external lighting, etc…) For recommendations over £1,000, you may qualify for a grant. Homeowners and tenants can qualify for a Disabled Facilities Grant so contact your local authority.
In the US, many of the home modifications necessary for individuals with limited mobility can be costly. Therefore, various federal and state organizations and private non-profit charities offer grants to subsidize these remodeling costs. If you are a senior citizen, your city or state housing department may have programs in place to help defray the remodeling costs. Likewise, if you are an individual with limited mobility due to a disability, it’s worth consulting with the Department of Disabilities in your state as well as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Simple changes are the addition of equipment to help you with daily tasks. There are aids to help you move around your home such as grab rails, walkers, bed frames and hoists, stairlifts, and lift-up chairs, and there are all sorts of devices available to help in the kitchen such as a kettle tipper, one-handed chopping boards, and cupboards with pull out shelves. For assistance with personal hygiene, bathroom equipment includes a bath lift, a level access shower, shower seats, and toilet frames.
There are also aids and devices for specific issues and disabilities such as failing eyesight, impaired hearing, and arthritis. Even the simplest task you now find difficult can be made easier with some kind of aid such as a sock aid, jar opener, or a helping hand grabbing device for picking things off the floor.
Safety around the home, in general, is also an important consideration. If you live alone, you need a quick and easy way to inform someone if you have a fall or injure yourself. The obvious is a mobile phone that you keep close to hand at all times, but you might consider a personal monitor that is connected to a national network.
Look online or in mail-order catalogs for a wide range of items for assisted living. You may also have a local mobility shop.
There may come a time when you need to accept that even with all the assisted living equipment and house modifications, you cannot go on living in your home in a safe manner. There are several options to consider:
- Residential care home
- Sheltered housing
- Nursing home
These options depend on the extent of the help you need but they all mean leaving your home. Another option is to engage a live-in carer. Obviously, this means you need to have a spare room but there are benefits to this lifestyle other than just being able to stay in your home. According to Helping Hands, the quality of care is higher because of the one-to-one relationship; care and support are personalized to your specific needs; you gain companionship and friendship; there are no restrictions on when you can see family or receive visitors, and you can keep your pet if you have one.
A noteworthy example of the work carried out by Helping Hands is the case of Bob and Betty, an elder couple requiring live in care as Betty lived with Alzheimer’s. After getting to know the family and their requirements, we matched them with our live-in carer, Melissa, who soon arrived to provide ongoing support.
“Melissa is extraordinarily calm,” Bob said. “She will do anything to help and knows Betty so well that she knows when to pull back if she can see her anxiety rising. She cares efficiently and expertly and it has made such a lot of difference and relieved a great deal of stress. I really do not know what I would do without her” (The full case study is available here).
Help and assistance when you grow older comes in many forms. The more you take advantage of what is available, the easier you will grow old gracefully.