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Home adaptations for the elderly

Staying in the home they love is an important consideration as our loved ones get older. It doesn’t always feel feasible that they’ll be able to stay in their homes for longer. But with some minor adaptations and the help of a home improvement agency, it’s more than possible.

What’s more, your local council will pay for up to £1000 of work. And, if your needs are more acute you may be able to claim a Disabled Facilities Grant. This is a means-tested subsidy of up to £30,000.

From minor adjustments, such as a hand rail, to more extensive improvements, such a stair or bath lift, you’re able to make all types of home safer. Once you’ve got improvements in place, you should think about home care options. Live-in care can provide added safety and reassurance.

Small adaptations to make life easier

Although you may find that large-scale adaptations are required, firstly there are a few simple things you can do to make your loved one’s home that little bit better to be in. Create a safe environment for elderly care:

Improve lighting

Wherever there’s an opportunity throughout the home, it’s a great idea to let as much natural light as possible pour into living spaces. This will not only make visibility easier, but it can also help establish natural rhythms of night and day, aiding sleep.

Create clear contrasts

Whether it’s furniture, towels in the bathroom or bedding, go for clear block colours and avoid any complex stripes or patterns. This will make it easier to see.

Open outdoor space

Extend the inside to the outside. If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space, take advantage of it. A lovely place to sit outside, around foliage and nature, can do wonders for wellbeing, especially if getting out and about is of increased difficulty.

Clear up any clutter

It’s essential to remove any potential trip hazards or health and safety concerns from around the home. Make sure any trinkets are safely locked and all unused furniture is removed.

Make it homely

The biggest positive about arranging care in the home is the fact you get to stay at home, around memories and possessions. Keep family pictures in prominent positions,

Keep it tidy

This is something a live-in carer is able to help with on a day-to-day basis. Keeping the home clean and hygienic is an integral element of ensuring its a safe, happy and comfortable environment.


Six simple home adaptations

Before moving forward with big changes, these simple tips should help make your home safer for someone living with dementia.

Telecare equipment

Although no replacement for specialist dementia care, technology is increasingly able to make the life of those living with Alzheimer’s disease better.

Labelled ‘telecare’, there are a range of different sensors, switches and detectors that can help provide carers with additional support and families with additional reassurance.

  • Wearable alarms — such as necklace to call for help
  • Emergency alarms — such as fire and smoke detectors
  • Movement sensors — such as detecting if you’re out of bed
  • Incontinence sensors — devices that can alert the carer

Telecare availability varies significantly from one local authority to another, who also have differing eligibility criteria. If you’re not told about availability, it’s always worth asking.


Around the home

It can be difficult to have an idea of what changes might need to be made. Here we go round some of the most important rooms in the house, going through some of the changes that might need to be made.

In the bathroom

Clearly, the bathroom is the room of the house that poses the greatest risk of a fall, particularly as Alzheimer’s advances, but there are also other hazards to consider. Luckily, there are several adaptations that can be made to make this room

  • Prevent scalding – Installing thermostatic mixer taps and showers will provide the perfect temperature and prevent the flow of scalding water if the cold water fails.
  • Prevent falls – Adding grab rails, a transfer bench and a hoist can make the most hazardous task of getting in an out of the bath that little bit easier.
  • Improve accessibility - An accessible bath and walk-in shower will make it easier to wash, even if mobility is impaired. If budget or room is restricted, you can modify your bath or shower with a chair.
  • Prevent flooding – When someone has memory issues, bathrooms can flood easily. Adding a flood warning system or a special saftey plug can reduce the risk.

In the bedroom

The bedroom also needs to be adapted with frailty, incontinence and nighttime wakeups all at the front of mind.

  • Toileting – Ensuring you have a bedpan to hand, fitting the bed with a waterproof mattress and waterproof sheets.
  • Getting up – Hoists and other transfer aids are important, helping to raise and lower people in and out of bed. You’re able to mobile hoists that can be moved for use in a variety of rooms. Profile beds can also help in the process.
  • Lighting – Fitting automatic lighting ensures that a nighttime wakeup doesn’t result in a difficult walk in the dark, which could increase the risk of a fall.

In the kitchen

Cooking and eating can become increasingly difficult as Alzheimer’s becomes more acute.

  • Remaining comfortable – As a lot of the time in the kitchen is spent being stood up, getting a perching stool, chair or somewhere comfortable to sit makes it a little easier.
  • Trouble eating – Alzheimer’s disease may progress to the point that support is needed from a carer during meal times. Even with this support, wide-handled cutlery, high-rimmed plates and two-handled cups all make things a little easier. Also, be sure to opt for plastic for additional safety.
  • Trouble cooking – As the onset of Alzheimer’s progress, it’s likely cooking will become unsafe. But in the early stages, height-adjustable cupboards, extension grab handles for appliances
  • Moving meals – If you’re eating your meal in a dining room or living room, why not get a trolley to make transporting hot food safer.

Where to start

Usually, your Occupational Therapist is the first port of call. They’re trained to help those living with Alzheimer’s, as well as their families, to get home improvement strategies in place.

After assessing your needs, they should be able to help indicate the kind of adaptations it would be a good idea to make, as well as pointing you in the direction of any funding.

The kind of changes you’ll need to make to the home will vary widely depending on the severity of your love condition.

Funding for home adaptations

All of these changes can be expensive. Luckily, your local authority will be able to provide home adaptations up to the cost of £1000, which you’re entitled to regardless of your income.

You’re also able to get more extensive modifications to your home with Disabled Facilities Grants. These are provided by your local authority and can help pay for work to make your home more accessible with ramps, widened access and stairlifts.

These can be up to the value of £30,000 for those in England and are means-tested for those with over £6,000 in household savings, as well as household income.

It’s essential you wait for your application to be confirmed prior to work beginning on your property, otherwise, you may find you’re no longer eligible — although this varies between local authorities.


Paying for Alzheimer’s care

Here are some other useful resources to look at to get funding in place for home care.