Adapting your home for an older or disabled person

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Adapting your home may become necessary as you are getting older or if a family member has a disability. Adaptations, improvements and repairs will help you or the disabled family member continue to live independently in your home. Here are some suggestions you may want to consider.

In the outdoor area of your home, you will need to repair everything that looks dangerous, such as a broken path. Proper garden maintenance will ensure that plants are not overgrown, thus causing an obstruction. It is good to remove any weeds between the paving stones and trim the back hedges. It is crucial to improve the lighting around the front door of your home and install an entry phone system. It is also a good idea to install fitting door handles, which are easy to see and grasp.

For the indoors area, you may want to increase the amount of natural light entering your home. Also, improve the control and level of artificial lighting. You will need to fix and dangerous elements, like loose carpeting or broken rails on the staircase. When adapting your home for an older or disabled person, you will also need to install continuous handrails on either side of the staircase to hold on to. Depending on your interior design, you may need to change the color scheme, so that objects can be seen more easily. It is a good suggestion to put raised markings on appliance controls. Also, make sure you have non-slip flooring in the bathroom. To adapt your home, you can widen doorways and passage ways, move light switches, door handles, doorbells and entry phones to a more convenient height, adapt the bathroom facilities, re-locate the bathroom and the bedroom at ground-floor level, install ramps to avoid using steps, install a stair lift, buy specialized furniture, like adjustable beds and support chairs, set up alert devices for the deaf or hard of hearing. It is very important exits to always be accessible and the person to not rely entirely on mechanical means to get out, in cases of emergency. Increasing the amount of heat insulation will help keep you warm, without paying higher bills. You can check online for energy efficiency solutions. Another thing you may find are aids and gadgets, which might help the older or disabled person live safely and more independently.


Before making any changes to your home, contact an occupational therapist, who will assess the daily living needs of the older or disabled person and advise you on what adaptations your home needs. You can contact an occupational therapist through the community care section of your local Health Office or hire one privately, if the waiting list for the public service is too long. Other health professionals, like public health nurses and physiotherapists can also advise you on specialized equipment and home adaptations you will need.

adjustable bed

Adapting your home may be expensive, especially if you need to make structural changes. If you do not have substantial savings, you can contact your local council social services department and ask for a social worker to assess your needs. Social services departments help provide adaptations and additional facilities for safety, security and convenience for people with disabilities, if they agree the changes are necessary and you meet their criteria. Housing authorities generally take responsibility for structural alterations and fixed equipment. Social services departments deal with forms of equipment, which can be removed with little or no structural modifications and which are not covered by Disabled Facilities Grants, like stair-lifts.

bath seat

You can hire a home improvement agency. They can visit your home and help you decide what changes to your home will benefit you, assist with financial arrangements and organize the work itself.

Home improvements and adaptations are necessary, so that the older or disabled person can continue to live in their home independently and safely. Consult specialists to help you decide what adaptations need to be made and see if you qualify for financial help.

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