Modifications that can help you age at home – safely

Many older Australians want to continue to live in their homes, where they feel comfortable and are familiar with their surroundings, as they age. We’ve created a simple list of the most popular home modifications likely to be required. They can be a simple refurbishment or renovation depending on what needs to change in your home to help you live more independently.

Accessibility

Ramps
To make your home more accessible, installing a ramp to get in and out of your home will provide more freedom. You can enter and leave your home comfortably and it also provides access for those using a wheelchair. It can be a simple cost-effective and practical solution to enhance your mobility around your home. Ramps can generally be installed quickly and there are portable options that are lightweight and can be moved around as required.

Widen doors
Homes are generally built with standard size doorways. To move around more freely in a wheelchair within your home, doors should be widened if possible, to increase mobility and to make the home more accessible for anyone in a wheelchair. Adding night lights in hallways, and additional handrails will also help with ease of movement.

Stair lifts
Having stairs in your home can make moving around more difficult when you become older or have a disability. Installing a stair lift will help to relieve the stress and discomfort of having to climb the stairs. Stair lifts are generally called chair lifts and can usually be installed quite easily in your home without the need to make any structural building changes.

Medical alert systems
Installing a medical alarm system in your home can offer peace of mind and the knowledge that if an emergency were to arise, the relevant services would be contacted, and help would be on the way. There are different models, so speaking with an expert can help you choose the right device for you and your home.

Smart devices
Technology is always advancing and can be of great assistance. Smart devices are easy to use and many offer voice control to manage different features in your home, such as lights, calling friends and family, and listening to music.

Read: How smart speakers can help older Australians

Kitchen modifications
When choosing to stay at home, you should think about how your home operates and the things that you may find more difficult in the future, if not immediately. The kitchen can be a dangerous place, so it is important to make some simple modifications to help you live as independently as possible.

Flooring
To help avoid any slips in the kitchen, upgrading your floor to a non-slip surface can help prevent a nasty injury from falling.

Lighting
Make sure the lighting is adequate as eyesight generally deteriorates with age. To prevent tripping over objects while trying to find the switch, ensure switches are easily reached and are positioned at the entrance to rooms.

Everyday tasks such as cooking can be simpler and less stressful, by keeping your kitchen in order and making sure cabinets are organised. You should make everyday items accessible with good lighting, lower your benches and fix soft closers to cabinets and doors.

Bathroom modifications
Each individual home may require different modifications to help those living there use them with ease. These are the most common modifications generally required.

Grab bars
Installing grab bars in your home can provide additional support when getting up out of the bath, shower or toilet. They can be installed almost everywhere but should be installed properly to the wall and not via suction cups to ensure they are as sturdy as possible and don’t contribute to injuries.

Hand-held shower
Upgrading your shower head to a hand-held unit can be a quick and easy solution to showering comfortably without the need for assistance. The use of a shower chair could also be a great help.

Making sure all products are within easy reach – such as soap dispensers, shampoo and so on – will stop you from having to overstretch to reach them. Further upgrades will be required if you have mobility issues and require a wheelchair.

Read: Is your dwelling a health and safety risk?

Funding your home modifications
My Aged Care
There are several kinds of home modifications that can help both the elderly and those living with a disability. For those people who are aged over 65, you can apply for a home modification subsidy through myagedcare.gov.au.

NDIS
For under 65s, the NDIS offers funding for design and construction to homes as part of a package, which is tailored to suit each individual’s needs and requirements. For more information visit ndis.gov.au.

Read: PM named respondent in case for discrimination of older people

Commonwealth Home Support Program
This program is designed to assist older Australians live safely and independently at home. It provides services from domestic assistance to home modifications. To find out if you are eligible, apply here.

Home care packages
There are a variety of home care packages available depending on your requirements and the level of care needed. The packages can provide affordable care and can be in addition to the assistance provided in the Commonwealth Home Support Program. More information is available here.

This article was written and published by aged care and disability support organisation  ConnectAbility Australia. It is republished with their kind permission.

Have you modified your home in any way to make it safer to age in place? Why not share your suggestions in the comments section below?

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