Mobility problems come with age, and not a few seniors rely on wheelchairs to go about their daily lives. Taking care of an elderly relative with mobility issues — while still giving them independence — requires making your house accessible.
Overall Floor Plan
A few minor changes in your house should make it accessible. Level the floors and opt for ramps instead of steps. Carpets and rugs can tangle or hinder wheelchairs, so keep your floors as plain as possible. Keep children’s toys properly stored when not in use. Accidents brought about by simple toys are common, and you wouldn’t want it happening in your house. You might need wider doors, or you can have a skilled carpenter install double-acting doors (doors that swing both ways). Lower light switches in places where your elderly relative might use or opt for automatic/motion-detecting lights.
The bathroom requires the most work. Most senior accidents occur in the bathroom, more so if they have mobility issues. Ensure the door opens towards the bathroom (if you haven’t installed double-acting ones) and have enough space in the corridors to maneuver. The path from the door to the toilet must be clear of obstruction, so you might need to move your sink or cabinet. The toilet must be level with the wheelchair for safety and ease of use.
You can easily purchase raised seats, but make sure they have the necessary supports. Taking a bath can be difficult and dangerous (for any senior), so opt for a walk-in tub to allow them to take a bath on their own. Walk-in tubs are specifically designed for seniors and people with disabilities. They are easy to get in and out of, and they eliminate the risk of slipping associated with taking a shower or using a normal tub.
A Home Elevator
One of Utah’s biggest YouTube stars hit more than 25 million views by making a video installing a residential elevator. Home elevators or vertical lift systems are quite popular in Utah as most seniors want to hold on to their independence, even when they move in with family in their later years. Home elevators can cost around $13,000-$25,000, but they are a lot safer than the usual stairlift. They take very little space and can be installed within a week (usually 4-5 days). Accidents are virtually impossible, and it allows seniors to stay in their wheelchairs as they go.
A Home Alert System
Even with enough precautions, sometimes accidents are unavoidable. A medical alert system on your senior relative should alert you of falls or if they feel some ailment. Key the system to your phone or some alarm in the house so you can respond as soon as possible once an accident occurs. Opt for a wearable medical alert system, particularly the ones that can detect falls.
Making your house accessible gives your elderly loved one more freedom and independence. What’s a little bit of money compared to the happiness that you can give them.