Making Your Home Elder-Friendly Does Not Require A Total Renovation
I was having a chat with my colleague, Joanne, two days ago and she told me she was undertaking some renovation for her new house. Unlike other common renovations where one simply chooses a design according to our likes and dislikes, she had the added consideration of making the renovations more elderly-friendly given that her in-laws would be staying with her.
It led me to wonder about whether I should also consider making some basic changes to my house as well. My mum and dad are 63 and 65 respectively. It never really crossed my mind but…what if they were to fall in the bathroom? I didn’t want to have to look back when something unfortunate happens and regret not having done something earlier. So I started on some of my own research and spoke with the guys from ALT Renovation, which was recommended by a friend who got them to design an elderly-friendly home.
Renovating for an elderly-friendly home does not mean you need to spend a lot of money revamping the entire house; rather, small changes can actually make a big impact to the lifestyle and standard of living for the elderly, making it a safe and pleasant place to live in. Here are some tips on the changes you can make for different areas of your home:
Renovating the toilet may not seem like a priority to some but this is actually the place which can prove dangerous for elderly. Slippery floor, wet surfaces and difficulty in using toilets when wheel-chair bound means special care has to be taken in this area. Some enhancements to include here means
- Choose floor tiles that have rougher textures or are slip-resistant (if not, a simple solution is to use a slip mat)
- Install safety handle bars near toilet bowls for additional support
- Safety handle bar near shower area for parents to grip on in case the floor is slippery
- Ensure the toilet door is big enough to fit a basic wheelchair (you never know when it is necessary)
- Avoid having floor kerbs, have a ramp instead
- Install shower heads with adjustable height
- Get a distress alarm (in case of accident or emergency)
The kitchen area is one where accidents are common for the elderly. You may want to consider using an induction cooker hob instead of a gas cooker for safety reasons. If you are going for a full-on renovation instead of making small changes, think about installing lower racks and shelves instead. Similarly, opt for textured floor tiles.
C. Living Room
The front entrance which leads into the living room can be made elderly-friendly with a ramp instead of a kerb. Also, opt for doors/gates that can be opened wide to accommodate wheelchairs.
The living room is a place for activities and watching TV, so to help elderly members in wheelchair move with ease, ensure there is enough space for them and be careful not to clutter the living area with furnitures and storage items. Remove carpets to reduce chances of tripping over them.
As much as possible, you might want to go for sliding doors for easier access.
E. Overall safety Tips
Choices in the overall accessories and furniture can also help in making your home more elderly-friendly, these includes:
- Providing sufficient grab bars in places like the bathrooms/toilets and along the way from front door to the elderly’s bedroom
- Ensuring that there are no trailing electrical wires on the floor to reduce tripping
- Choosing large rocker light switches for easy access
- Buying light furniture with rounded edges so that they can be easy to move around to make space when needed.
Heard of the EASE Programme?
The EASE programme is part of the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) offered by HDB from July 2012. Improvement items installed in your flat through EASE can make it more elder-friendly, and improve mobility for elderly residents.
Singapore Citizen flat owners qualify for EASE if there is an elderly member in the household is 65 years old and above, or
An elderly member in the household aged between 60 and 64 years that requires assistance for one or more of the Activities of Daily Living (ADL)*
ADL refers to daily self-care activities within an individual’s place of residence. These activities include washing/ bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, mobility, and transferring.
- Types of Improvements
There are three main improvement items that can be chosen, namely:
- slip-resistant treatment to current floor tiles of 2 bathrooms/toilets
- 8 or 10 grab bars for the first toilet and within flat, and 6 grab bars for the second toilet
- up to 5 ramps within flat
EASE is a highly-subsidised programme and HDB typically covers up to 95% of the total cost. For SC households, you’ll pay an amount ranging from $125 to $312.50 according to your flat type.
It’s a small cost to pay to make your home a more livable and pleasant environment for the senior members at home. It’s never too early to start to make these enhancements to your home!