Monday, June 20, 2011

MAKING THE HOME SAFE FOR OUR ELDERLY PARENTS



The highlight of the 50plus Expo organized by Council of Third Age (C3A) Singapore from April 1-3 was the "My Life, My Home" exhibition. This video above posted on YouTube by C3A takes viewers on a virtual tour of an age-friendly home.

When you have an elderly parent living with you, safety in the home becomes a paramount concern. Poor vision and limited mobility make the elderly prone to accidents and falls. It's better to take preventive measures than be sorry later.

Clear passage way for my mom. The floor is free of rugs and clutter.

My 85-year old mother uses a walking frame to move around. We had to remove all the rugs and carpets so she wouldn't trip over them. We got her a lightweight wicker chair with arm-rests so she could sit comfortably and safely at the dinner table. Never mind that it didn't match the rest of the chairs at the table.

We didn't have to spend a bomb on expensive home renovations to reduce the risk of falls. My mother sleeps on a queen-size bed. It gives her more room to turn over on her side without falling off the bed. For a single bed, adding a side rail serves the same purpose. There are two bedside lamps (one broke) and the switches are within easy reach.

(Above) My mother's ground floor bedroom with French windows opening out to a little courtyard with flowering shrubs. Minimalist is the word. She dislikes using the air-con or the fan, unfortunately for me. I slept on the floor next to the bed for the first three months after her discharge from hospital, so I could watch over her at night. There wasn't room to put in another bed. Now that she is more independent, I have moved to the family TV room adjoining her bedroom so I can still see to her if she needs anything at night.

Like most elderly people, my mother has incontinence. She refuses to wear adult diapers at night, and would rather use the toilet 2-3 times a night. So it's important to leave a night light on. My mother and I had an argument over this. She thinks it's a waste of electricity. We finally compromised by having an electric mosquito trap do double duty as a night light.
My mother's bathroom cum toilet adapted to her  needs.
The bathroom is where falls are most likely to happen. Fortunately, the flooring in my mother's bathroom is non-slip. The shower is adjustable and the walls have grab bars for her to hold on to. There's a seat in the shower area for her to sit on while I shower her. If there isn't one in your bathroom, it's easy enough to place a bath chair there. And if there isn't enough space to manoeuvre a walking frame or wheelchair in the bathroom, remove all clutter (e.g. pails) on the floor.

Hand rail all along the stairs and broad steps lessen the risk of falls. It's a good thing my mother has no desire to venture upstairs, at least for now. 
My mother's clothes and personal belongings are kept within her reach. The elderly have difficulty getting things that are placed too high or too low. So crockery, cutlery and snacks should be conveniently placed for them. This is one area that is often overlooked by family members.

With careful planning and simple adaptations, we can make the home comfortable and safe for our elderly parents, and ourselves too when we reach their age. Housing developers are starting to realize there is a huge demand for age-friendly housing, and are incorporating safety features in the design of such homes.

It's about time.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

How about also making it convenient, private, clean and hygienic? One thing I would like when I become old is the bidet. It sure replaces all the paper work!

Taikohtai

dui lawyer in arizona said...

It should be more secure. They deserve it.

Alejandra Hutchcraft said...

When building or renovating a home, it’s definitely important that you take into consideration the people living in your home, especially the elderly. Make it easier for them to live in your home so they can do what they want without help from you. Make sure that it is safe for them to go around the house too.

*Alejandra Hutchcraft

Steve Berke said...

This a great post! I enjoyed reading it.

I think this article could complement your post.

Good luck with your future piece :)