Home adaptations for the elderly
It doesn’t always feel feasible that your mum or dad will be able to stay at home as their condition becomes more difficult. But with some minor adaptations and the help of a home improvement agency, it’s more than possible.
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’ll be able to make home into a suitably safe environment – ready for live-in care.
Getting started with home adaptations
Usually, an Occupational Therapist is the first port of call. They’re trained to help those with care needs, as well as their families, to get home improvement strategies in place.
You’ll be referred to one after requesting a needs assessment from your local authority.
After evaluating 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 loved one’s condition.
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:
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.
Although no replacement for specialist carer, technology is increasingly able to make the life of those living with conditions, such Alzheimer’s, 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.
Improvements 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.
Elderly adaptations in the bathroom
Clearly, the bathroom is the room of the house that poses the greatest risk of a fall, 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.
Elderly home adaptations 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.
Elderly home adaptations in the kitchen
Cooking and eating can become increasingly difficult as you get older, but there are changes that can be made to make things easier.
- 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 – Support may be needed from a carer during meal times. Even with this help, 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 people become increasingly frail, 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.
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 care
Here are some other useful resources to look at to get funding in place for home care.
Paying for care | Arranging direct payments | Put yourself in control | Elder
Paying for care | Arranging direct payments | Put yourself in control | Elder
Care On A Personal Health Budget | Elder
A personal health budget is an amount of money that can be used to cover health costs. A personal health budget can be used towards the cost of care for your loved one. Find out what the eligibility criteria are and how you can apply for one for your care needs.
The Cost of Care 2020: Everything You Need to Know
Discover the true cost of care and explore your funding options with our comprehensive guide that covers everything from financial assistance to the costs of different types of care.