Thursday 23 February 2017

Caring for elderly and disabled loved ones - how we made the home safer

Whilst we may not want to admit it time creeps up on all of us. Not only do the years pass us by and we grow old but those around us do too. Many of us fondly think of ourselves as our younger self - it only seems like yesterday that I was 21 and carefree - and not notice how many years have actually passed since that magic number. As well as forgetting how much we have actually aged it is often

Over the years I have witnessed and helped care for a number of my loved ones as they suffered from all types of illnesses and disabilities.

I sadly watched my great-great-great aunt Nansi disappear thanks to Alzheimer’s. Heartbreakingly I watched my beloved Mamgu (grandmother) bravely fight a battle with cancer that she sadly could not win.

I have seen my mum struggle with afflictions galore including spinal injury, arthritis, and fibromyalgia to name but a few, that have made her life a daily struggle.

I have also witnessed my Dadcu (granddad) suffer from aches and pains leftover from a hard life working on the farm which has seen him have two hip replacements and a shoulder replacement.

As we are a close-knit family who believe in caring for our own (but support and welcome specialist care when it is needed and suitable such as home carers and care homes) when one of us is ill or struggling with a disability we all rally around.

Having witnessed family helping family and going that extra mile to help and support, I have had a strong ethos of caring for my loved ones from a young age. This passion for helping loved ones has meant that over the years I have take on caring for family members when needed. When my Dadcu had his hip and shoulder replacements I cared for and supported him when he was home from hospital and recovering.

I have seen how illnesses, disabilities and old age can affect daily life for people and make it harder for them to be independent. With that in mind I wanted to share a few thoughts on aids and ways that we have found beneficial for making the home safer and more comfortable for elderly people and people who are suffering from an illness or disability.

* If they find getting in and out of bed without help difficult or struggle to get a comfortable night's sleep consider getting a new bed that suits their needs. For example an adjustable bed may help them get in and out of bed easier. Likewise adjustable chairs can also make life easier and more comfortable for those who struggle with normal sofas and chairs. We got my Dadcu one when he started to struggle with his hip pain and could not safely and comfortably get seated on his normal living room furniture and it was worth its weight in gold post-op as he could adjust the height to get in and out of it easily.

* Help your loved one keep a level of independence and support them to be able to manage their personal care and hygiene in a safer environment by using bathroom aids. Consider fitting aids such as handrails for support and safety. If they struggle to use a bath or shower, perhaps they cannot get into or out of the bath safely and without being in pain, or they struggle to safely use their conventional shower consider looking at renovating the bathroom with a bath or shower that suits their needs. Another option can be a wet room that allows them to deal with their personal hygiene needs in a safe environment - we did so with my Dadcu and the wet room cost was worth every penny to make his life easier and safer.

* If your loved one lives in a house with stairs and whether due to illness, disability or old age finds getting up and down stairs a challenge and hazard consider looking at getting a stair-lift. My late great-great-great aunt Nansi had one fitted after a nasty fall down the stairs and once she could safely zip up and down the stairs on it it was a relief to know she was that little bit safer in her home.

What aids have you found helpful for making the home safer and easier for the elderly or people suffering from an illness or disability?

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