Home Health & Wellness Planning Ahead: The Importance of Early Modifications for Safe and Independent Living in Later Life

Planning Ahead: The Importance of Early Modifications for Safe and Independent Living in Later Life

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Family members discussing ageing is always meaningful and can be enhanced by input from healthcare professionals.

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, their health, where they live and whether they wish to have outside involvement. As this is a person’s right, it is also the person’s right to decline support they may not be ready for, or decline therapy or intervention but agree to some aids, advice and adaptations or support.  

Occupational Therapists do not work on an all-or-nothing approach. Our clients can pick and choose the support they require and we work with our clients to set goals and support them to achieve them. However, there is a caveat. When a person is in crisis or the situation is critical, choices become limited and sometimes in order to return home from the hospital or be able to remain in a person’s own home, adaptations and modifications may be required urgently and may serve the purpose intended but not be ideal for the client.

The right modifications early on can prevent the need to go into nursing or residential care or enable a carer to come in and help rather than having to move home. 

How do we stop a crisis and ensure care, health and home life are protected?  

Planning ahead is often the answer but not always possible with some sudden changes to a person’s life, for example, a cancer diagnosis, loss of a loved one or a serious road traffic accident.

Taking the aforementioned into consideration, if later life or old age is planned for there are ways to make changes that are small that will not have a substantial effect to start with. However, small changes will become part of life and enable safe and independent living through the ageing process.

Look at your home and think about what you may or may not have concerns about at the moment, but would have if you were older and less active? Do you like cooking and want to ensure you can cook well into your old age? Do you already hate the stairs and worry about how you will cope later on with them? Would you like to feel safer in the bathroom?

Sharing these concerns earlier with family members or a healthcare professional and planning for a reduction in ability sooner rather than later can mean a small change in technique. Adaptations like a Stiltz Homelift to replace needing the stairs, removing the trip-hazard lip on the shower with a wet room or budgeting for an accessible kitchen can make all the difference in later life.

Stuart Barrow is an occupational therapist and consultant to Stiltz Homelifts.

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