If you have an elderly parent who lives on their own, you may be concerned about how they will cope as they get older. Elderly people can be more vulnerable to having a fall at home as a result of reduced mobility or frailty. They may begin to have difficulty with daily tasks such as climbing the stairs or having a bath. It is important to most seniors that they can stay living in the familiar surroundings of their own home as long as possible, but this can be a worry for their children in case they have an accident. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help your mother or father continue to live independently and safely on their own.
Consider Installing a Stairlift
One of the most high-risk areas in the home for falls is the stairs. If someone has difficulty in walking, there is an increased chance that they will slip, trip or fall on the stairs, which could result in a serious injury. It is not uncommon for an elderly person to stop using their stairs altogether and end up sleeping in a chair downstairs because they can’t manage their stairs. However, there is no need for your parent to restrict themselves to using only the lower level of their home. Installing a stairlift can make their whole home accessible again and they can carry on using their upstairs rooms.
Buying a stairlift is a relatively inexpensive way to help someone live independently and get back the freedom to use their stairs in comfort and safety. Stairlifts can be fitted to most kinds of stairways, even ones with twists or turns, or ones that are steep or narrow. The prices of stairlifts are dependent on the layout of the stairs. There is less work required in installing a stairlift on straight stairs, so straight stairlifts tend to cost less than curved ones. Curved stairlifts run along made to measure tracks, which have to be specially built to fit the precise dimensions of a staircase.
Whichever type of stairlift is needed for your parent’s stairs, the installation should be complete within a few hours. It is a common misconception that getting a stairlift will involve a lot of building work to make sure the walls can support the weight. Actually, stairlifts are not attached to walls but instead are attached to a track that is screwed on to the stair treads.
Stairlifts are specifically designed to be easy for older people to use and operate. They have swivel seats to assist with getting on and off and automatic sensors to prevent collisions with objects on the stairs. They have simple push buttons or paddle switches that simply need to be pressed in the direction of travel. They also come with remote controls that can be mounted at each end of the stairs and used to call the stairlift or send it away, which is a useful feature if more than one person needs to use the lift.
Think About Altering the Bathroom
Another part of the home where accidents can occur is the bathroom, where an elderly person could slip or get stuck in the bath. Replacing a standard bath tub or shower stall with a walk-in bath or shower with a seat and grab rails is something that can make life much easier for an elderly parent and enable them to wash unaided.
When remodelling, it is important to put non-slip flooring in a bathroom or wet room, such as non-slip vinyl or slip-resistant floor tiles. This can greatly reduce the risk of a fall. Another adaptation to consider is lever-operated or sensor-operated taps, which are easier for someone with arthritis to operate.
Update the Lighting
Having inadequate lighting is another contributor to the risk of falls and is something that can be corrected without too much work. Poor lighting makes it harder for an elderly person to see where they are going and increases the chance of them bumping into something or tripping over.
The lighting levels should be consistent in every room, and it’s important to use light fittings and bulbs that give out optimum light without making shady areas. As well as making sure your parent’s home is well lit, you could look at moving light switches to make them easier to reach.
Move Trip Hazards
Probably the easiest thing you can do yourself to help a parent get around their home safely is to go room to room and get rid of anything that could be a potential trip hazard. For example, remove rugs or door mats and items of furniture that could get in the way. The aim is to keep pathways clear and wide enough for someone using a walking stick or frame.
If you are worried about an ageing parent living alone, there are several actions you can take to adapt their home and help them to continue living independently. Getting a stairlift, updating the bathroom, maximising lighting and moving trip hazards are all things that can make a home safer and make life easier for an elderly person.