Practical tips to enable you to stay independent
Senior years Here's how to get simple, and often free, home equipment and adaptations to help you to remain independent and enjoy a better quality of life.
Health problems, bereavement, or disability can make staying in your own home difficult – but often the right equipment can help.
Michael Roche, Technical Advice Support Officer, Social Care, at Age UK, says: “There is wide range of home adaptations and special equipment that can make life easier and enable you to stay independent.”
Getting around the house
“Being unable to get into the community affects how we feel about ourselves and our self-care, so rails, ramps, outdoor lights and wheelchair lifts that help us get in and out, can help,” says Roche.
A door-entry intercom, entry phone operated from your chair, or a key safe will make it easier to welcome visitors and reduce the worry of risk.
An extra stair rail, stair lift or wheelchair lift can help with stairs, while raising and reclining chairs and beds can help you get up and about. Bath lifts, adapted toilets and wet rooms can aid hygiene.
Updating life at home
Simple equipment like a kettle tipper or perching stool can help in the kitchen, and work surfaces and cupboards can be height-adjusted for wheelchair users.
Extra lighting and changing décor can help with sight problems, while phones and doorbells that flash rather than ring can help people with hearing loss.
Where memory is an issue, electronic locators can find items such as keys and purses, and if you get lost a personal locator can help others find you.
‘Telecare’ equipment, such as fall detectors and personal alarms, can automatically alert your family or carers, while 'telehealth' equipment can monitor your blood pressure or blood sugar.
How to get help and advice
Ask your council for a care assessment - it's free for everyone.
“Usually an occupational therapist will assess a wide range of issues, but most importantly, what you want to achieve, and recommend any equipment, adaptations, care and support you need,” says Roche.
Will it cost anything?
If you are eligible, minor adaptations such as grab rails, lever taps or external lighting, are free.
For adaptations costing over £1,000, such as a wet room or stair lift, you may get a Disabled Facilities Grant. Some people may have to pay but the advice is free.
“The system can be complex and confusing, so don't wait for an emergency to get advice,” says Roche.
“Finding out about your rights and choices could improve your quality of life and help you stay independent.”
* Get Age UK's fact sheet Adapting your home - Services and equipment to help you stay living at home, at ageuk.org.uk, or 0800 055 6112. Disabled Living Foundation: dlf.org.uk.