Ageing at home is important for all of us. Maintaining our independence in familiar surroundings and being close to our family and friends, can make all the difference to our happiness, health and wellbeing.
However, there are certain changes that can be made around the house to improve safety and access so that the elderly can move around confidently and function well during their activities at home.
Most accidents in the home occur in the bathroom, regardless of age. Combine this with a loss of mobility, vision or hearing, sickness or recovering from an operation and safety concerns are increased.
It doesn’t take much to make the bathroom a safer place for the elderly. Your plumber can give you great advice and help you install these products.
For some elderly people, the simple act of turning on and off a tap can be difficult and cause pain. Traditionally, taps use rubber washers to prevent dripping, however, when these washers wear out, it makes it harder to turn the tap to close fully.
There are now quarter turn taps using ceramic disc technology available on the market. The use of this new technology, makes tap turning so much easier and less leaks. A quarter turn of the tap and the water flow is stopped immediately. The ceramic disc also means that you do not need as much strength to turn the tap on and off. Your old taps can be replaced with these new taps by your plumber.
Another alternative is soft close taps, they do not take as much effort to turn on and off.
In the Shower
Showering can be an unsafe activity for the elderly, when you combine tight spaces and hard surfaces with slippery soap and water.
There are hand rails you can install in the shower to secure your movement and prevent slips and falls as you shower. The rails come in a range of finishes to match your bathroom décor.
For those that find standing for a long time difficult, do not feel confident on their feet or are recovering from an operation, there are fold down chairs that are secured to the shower wall. The seat folds down when you need it and can be folded back up when not needed or if there are only people using the shower. The fold down chairs are made of moulded plastic with slip resistant feet and include a vinyl seat for extra comfort.
Installing a hand held shower head with hose will help to control water flow when seated. The old shower head can be replaced or there are models that can be attached to your existing shower head.
Anti-slip mats that you place on the bottom of the bath will prevent slipping and give you a secure footing when stepping in and out of the bath. These are inexpensive and can be purchased from any bathroom accessories shop, supermarket, department store or hardware store.
Attaching hand rails to the wall close to the bath tub can help to support the person as they step in and out of the bath tub.
Hand rails like the ones used for the shower and bath, can be attached to the wall to guide the person as they sit down and to support them when standing again. They can be installed on the diagonal or you can purchase 90 degree angled rails for extra safety.
They also have glow rails with a luminous glow strip for use at night or in low light conditions.
Hot water set at high temperatures can cause injury to older people with slower reaction times. Tempering valves can be installed onto the hot water system which limits the hot water temperature to 50 degrees C. Water set at 50°C, takes five minutes to cause third-degree burns.