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Your home gives you comfort and security – a friendly and familiar place you'd hate to leave behind. With the right additions to their home an older relative can stay independent for longer.
As we grow older, things change. It’s natural and it happens to all of us. But you may notice that a relative’s physical health – their eyesight, hearing or mobility – has got worse and they’re finding things tough. Perhaps they’ve begun to struggle with everyday tasks, such as cooking a meal or getting out of the bath. Or maybe they’re having difficulty with the stairs or getting up from their favourite chair.
Memory problems can also make it harder to live independently at home. And if your relative suffers from an unexpected illness or injury – such as a stroke or fall – the change in their physical or mental health can be even more rapid.
Fortunately, there are ways to make a home more suited to an older person’s changing needs. For someone with mobility problems, a riser recliner chair, stairlift or bath lift could transform their environment. Things that help with memory loss – from pill dispensers and gadgets to stop the bath overflowing – can also help. And there are devices that help you monitor a relative who doesn’t live with you.
Check whether there is an equipment-demonstration centre (sometimes called a disabled or independent-living centre) in your area. They provide information on a range of equipment and will allow you to try out products on display. Some mobility shops can even visit with larger items of equipment to try in your own home.
Riser recliner chairs
If someone struggles with sitting down and standing up, a riser recliner chair offers a comfortable solution that helps them get in and out of a chair without assistance. Choose a riser recliner chair for someone who:
- wants to change their position in the chair, and get in and out independently
- wants more comfort – for example, by raising their legs.
But think twice or get specialist advice if:
- they have complex medical needs – such as a serious back problem
- they want to sleep in their chair for prolonged periods
- they don’t have enough room for it.
Smart technology to stay independent
Mild memory loss is very common as you get older, but if it starts to cause problems – perhaps as a result of dementia – living independently at home can become a challenge. Important medication can be forgotten, the oven might be left on and even previously familiar journeys can become stressful and disorientating.
Broadly known as assistive technology Assistive technologyTechnology designed to help someone with a disability or medical need do things more easily and telecare products, there are many clever gadgets and devices that help older people to stay independent and safe at home.
Some gadgets seem great but may not suit a relative with complex needs. Before making a purchase, consider whether it really is appropriate for the person you’re buying it for:
● Does it require fine finger movement, or good eyesight or hearing?
● Does the person who will be using it understand its purpose?
● Are they happy to use it?
Our top technology types
We asked a panel of assistive technology experts to select and review a range of these products, including memory aids, telecare products and GPS tracking devices. Click through the gallery below for examples of the kinds of gadgets that our experts put through their paces.