It’s no secret: Singapore’s population is ageing rapidly. With this change, it would be ideal if we ensure we have more elderly-friendly homes.
By the end of the decade, almost one in every four Singaporeans will be 65 years old and older – as our country’s life expectancy hit a brand new high amongst the top in the world. Already, the Singapore government has been planning to accommodate more senior citizens with elder-friendly neighbourhoods and social welfare upgrades under the $3 billion dollar Action Plan for Successful Ageing.
Not only does designing an elderly-friendly home and environment protect the Merdeka generation in your family, but it also child-proofs your home to care for your young ones. So here are a few tips for you to make your home more elder-friendly.
1. Install Safety Grab Bars Around the House
An easy place to start would be to install safety grab bars in fall-risk areas around the house. This was a key upgrade in the Housing Development Board’s Home Improvement Program (HIP), where HDB residents receive subsidised renovation upgrades to their toilets in a bid to refresh older, mature estates.
Grab bars help elderly people to support their weight and keep their balance; they are especially useful in slippery areas where the elderly may struggle to move or lift themselves up. Place these bars at critical spots, such as next to your bathroom toilet seat and showering areas.
If your ageing parent is in a wheelchair, placing a grab bar behind the toilet seat will help you transfer your parent back and forth from the wheelchair.
Simple grab bars can cost between $200 to $300, based on the number of bars you need and the amount of installation work required. If you don’t need them in every room, perhaps install a few in the important common spaces before deciding if you would like to add more.
2. Replace Flooring With Non-slip Materials
Another change you can make is to replace the flooring in your home with non-slip materials. The risk of falling brings with it many health issues such as broken bones or injuries that may take time to heal.
Pick materials such as ceramic and porcelain tiles, or hardwood flooring over other alternatives. These materials are less slippery and provide more grip stability for everyone in the house. Vinyl flooring has also become a very popular choice, with some vinyl options specifically treated to be waterproof and provide slip resistance.
Flooring work could be a big financial investment for some families, so a more affordable option would be to place non-slip mats where they might be needed, and apply non-slip treatment to wet areas such as your bathrooms.
Vinyl flooring can be bought at a rate of roughly $6 per square foot, or an estimated $5,000 to $6,000 in total for the average 4-room HDB flat. For young couples, vinyl tiling could be a more affordable option to lay over existing floors instead of paying for costly hacking renovation fees.
Aside from non-slip flooring and mats, you’ll also want to keep the floor level and avoid installing raised flooring. Thresholds and steps can create tripping hazards.
3. Moving Switches to an Accessible Level for Wheelchair-Bound
Signs of ageing such as chronic back pain issues, loss of strength, or even being bound to mobility devices could affect the way the elderly go about their daily lives. By moving your switches and power sockets to a more accessible level, it provides ease of access for those who have mobility issues reaching up such as old folks in wheelchairs.
Lowering your switches and plugs to desk level at roughly one metre off the ground makes it easier for everyone to simply flick a switch on and off. Extension cords can also help to bring power plugs closer to key areas, such as the bedside or tabletops for users to have them within reach.
Handyman services for electrical work to lower switches can cost roughly $150 per power socket.
4. Widening of Doorways and Removal of Walls
Most people think of ramps and elevators when they want to make a place more accessible for the older generation, but another improvement your family can consider is the widening of doorways or the removal of walls for ease of access.
Widening your doorways, removing the door frames, or opting for offset door hinges helps to open up passageways greatly. This is great for the elderly who use walkers and wheelchairs. Regular doorways may often be too narrow for people using these mobility aids, so check to make sure that it is easy for them to pass through.
In elderly homes, removing walls in common spaces such as the living room can also give more leeway for wheelchair-bound family members to turn around or cut across pathways.
Labour costs for hacking a doorway can range from $600 to $2,000 for moderate to extensive work, and go up to almost $4,000 to remove an entire wall. It helps to list down all the changes you need to the layout of your house before asking for a quotation in order to prioritise your needs.
5. Hire Professional Home Caregivers to Assist With Daily Living
For complete peace of mind, take the next step and hire professional caregivers to assist with the day-to-day care of your elderly loved ones at home.
Caregiving services nowadays offer options for caregivers who are trained in occupational therapy for day-to-day help around the house. You can also employ home nurses who are medically certified to help with home treatments.
These caregivers are often knowledgeable and well-experienced in helping the elderly overcome their daily struggles, and can provide companionship throughout the day to keep them engaged.
Need Help Creating an Elderly Friendly Home? Contact Sendhelper
If you need help with elder-proofing your house or engaging an elderly caregiver, you can get help from services like Sendhelper.
Sendhelper is a home services brand provider that can aid you in managing your home. Not only can you find a handyman to help with installing your grab bars or lowering your power sockets, but also certified professionals to provide home caregiver services.
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