Wondering what to get your elderly parents for Christmas? If they’ve already got enough scarves and warm socks and they’ve told you they really don’t need anything… try looking around their home from a different perspective and see if there’s not something you can DO for them.
Try donning a pair of imaginary glasses, not Rose-Tinted but a pair of Elderly Lenses, and put yourself in their shoes as you move around your parents’ home and garden. Here’s some pointers:
START AT THE ENTRANCE. If there’s a step to either the front or back door, is there a sturdy handrail? Are the steps even? Turn your attention to outside lights. Is there good lighting outside the door?
Then come inside the door, when mum or dad locks the door at night, is the key left in the lock? This will mean no-one can unlock the door from outside if your parent is inside and needs help. If not in the lock, are the keys nearby in case they have to get out quickly? A handy solution can be a simple hook (either in the nearby wall or a suction hook on the door) for the keys to hang on. And don’t forget the doormat – is it a trip hazard?
REDUCE SLIPS AND TRIPS. On the subject of mats, check all the mats and rugs around the house. Are they curling up and causing a trip hazard? Replace them. Do they need a rubber liner underneath to stop them slipping? Cast your eyes around for potential trip hazards – wires or objects on the floor and see if they can be moved. Then turn your attention to footwear. Sloppy slippers, open-backed slippers, worn-out slippers, big-fluffy-loose-fitting slippers should all go.
BRIGHTEN THE PLACE UP. Pay attention to lighting inside too. As they get older and eyesight deteriorates, your parents may benefit from more powerful overhead light fixtures, as well as task lights carefully placed near work surfaces such as kitchen counters. Make sure that the ambient lighting is glare-free and at a consistent level from one room to the next to avoid eye strain.
VISIT THE BATHROOM. Mum or Dad might say they really don’t need grab rails in the bathroom. But when they are there, you do just use them without giving it a thought. If you do slip in the bathroom you tend to go down with a bump. So avoid it. Non-slip mat? Bath seat? Raised toilet seat?
GET TECHNOLOGICAL. There is no need to be completely tech savvy, but there are some useful gadgets. Do they receive lots of cold calls making them get up to answer the phone all the time? These can be screened and blocked. How about a daily skype or facetime? Not only does it keep you in touch but you can also see how they are looking.