Falls are the leading accidental killer in the elderly. Half of the deaths are at the time of the fall and the other half occur due to complications from it. With that in mind, checking and adapting an elder’s residence can literally save lives.
Rails: While the first thing that comes to mind with rails is the bathroom, there are other locations a rail could be handy. Long hallways and any step, even if it’s a small one to get onto the stoop are other locations that could benefit.
Ramps: If an elder needs a wheelchair, ramps are necessary. If the location is on home owner association property, you may be able to get them to approve ramps but the American’s with Disabilities Act is somewhat murky on whether or not the law applies to them.
Showers/tubs: Showers and tubs can now be changed into walk ins. This can be expensive, but cleanliness is important and stepping over the lip of a shower or into a tub is dangerous.
Kitchens: If an elder is unsteady on their feet or wheelchair bound, standard counters may be too high for safe usage. It may also be difficult/dangerous for them to cook. It is possible to redo the kitchen for this use. Again, it is expensive but it can add years at home.
Commodes: There are several ways to adapt toileting needs for an elder. Our elder has a raised chair with four legs and arms that fits over the toilet. This makes it easier for her to safely sit down and stand up. Because it has two arms instead of one rail, it is a more stable way to rise.
Some elders can’t make it to the bathroom, but they can move enough to go from bed to a portable toilet. These use special bags and chemicals to maintain sanitation and prevent odors.
Lifts: In some cases it is very difficult to get an elder out of bed, even though that is the best thing for them health wise. I can tell you from experience that lifting an elder to a standing position by yourself is not easy and it can be painful for both the person lifting and the person being lifted.
There are several types of lifts that can assist in this process. Some are slings that hang from the ceiling. Others are part of a chair lift system. They are valuable and worth the cost.
When looking into these adaptations, you may begin to wonder if it would be better for the elder to move to a facility. This is something we’ve already done. It costs thousands of dollars a month for an elder to be in a facility, and even the best aren’t as good as living at home. If there is a choice, adaptation may be the better way to go.