From a health point of view, 2017 has been our worst ever. What started off as feeling a little unwell, with the odd ache and pain, has turned into a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, probably a Heart Attack and definitely Heart Failure.
Then, when you throw in massive flare-ups for Bridget and a return of my kidney stones, is it any wonder we’re calling this year our worst ever?
Needless to say, we’ve had to slow down and curb our travels. Spending so much time at home has got me thinking, it’s made me realise how much emphasis I put on accessibility when we travel but not when we’re at home.
We marvel at how accessible the cottages are that we stay in, but we never talk about our home, about how accessible it is, or could be. Ironic when you consider how much time we spend at home.
In this post, I want to share our favourite aids and adaptations. Most of these we already own and some are on our wishlist.
Some of these aids are inexpensive, others are more of an investment but can be the difference between being able to stay in your own home or not.
Mobility Aids and Adaptations for Your Home
Large Grip Key Turner
When we first moved into our home, we didn’t own one of these. Bridget was still able to drive and walk, she returned home without me and was unable to unlock the front door. This key turner changed her world. Who’d have thought a simple piece of plastic could make so much difference?
I keep saying we need a portable ramp to take away with us because there are times when even a small step can feel like a mountain. But, I have never considered a portable ramp at home, which with hindsight, would make our garden more accessible. This became apparent recently when an elderly relative who’d had a hip replacement visited
Weekly Pill Organiser
This is my favourite purchase this year. Until I bought this pill organiser I was always forgetting which tablets I’d taken, but not anymore.
I’m currently up to 11 pills a day and this organiser has literally changed my life.
Ring Pull Can Opener
Because of deformities, Bridget can’t open tins and because of Fibromyalgia, I find ring pulls difficult.
This large handle ring pull opener makes the task a breeze and we wouldn’t be without it.
Bottle and Jar Opener
We don’t own this one yet but I would imagine it would be useful if you’re able to grip it. The days of sticking bottles and jars on the door hinge are long gone.
I rely on our grown-up sons for those tough lids and caps but this little bottle opener could replace them.
Electric Tin Opener
About 5 years ago, Bridgets Occupational Therapist suggested we buy an electric tin opener. At the time, they were expensive, I think the one she was suggesting was about £40? I put the kibosh on it and persevered with the old butterfly tin opener. Needless to say, now that my hands are weak, we’re proud owners of an electric tin opener.
Not actually a medical aid but without a doubt the best purchase we’ve made this year. If you like to cook, you’ll know how difficult it can be standing over a hot stove, sitting in a hot steamy kitchen or carrying hot pans.
A slow cooker does away with all that, you can even buy pre-chopped ingredients and if you need inspiration there are hundreds of tasty recipes online.
Walker with Tray
It pains me to say, but I am seriously thinking of buying a walker with a tray.
When my legs are bad or I’m feeling unsteady, a walking support with the ability to carry food and drink would be brilliant.
Lap Tray with Cushion
I’m one of those fellas that sit on the couch to eat his dinner. For years, I’ve balanced every conceivable dish and have the stains to prove it. About a year ago in one of the cottages we were staying in they had a lap tray with a padded bottom, it was a revelation and now we’re proud owners of two.
I seem to remember these grabbers from when I was a kid, although I think they were sold as a robot’s arm. Whatever they were called back then, they are really useful today because bending down to pick stuff up makes me breathless and it’s a stress I don’t need.
Much like the grabber, the sock puller is a godsend.
I don’t know whether it’s my Heart Failure, Fibromyalgia or big fat belly, but bending down to put socks on does take my breath away.
You can never have too many grab rails. We have them outside the house, in the toilet and in the bathroom.
Ours are fixed but you can get temporary grab rails that use a suction pad to stay in place.
Like many people with chronic illnesses, for both Bridget and I, mornings are a particularly tough time.
Both of us have illnesses that require time for our bodies to wake up. If it didn’t hurt it would be funny watching both of us seeing which joints work and which don’t.
Although we don’t have a permanent one, a bed rail is a good addition to help you get out of bed in the morning.
I love these because they are the most flexible pillow you’ll ever own. Whether it’s to support you sitting up in bed or to rest a weary arm or leg on, the V Pillow is a great solution to a common sleeping problem.
Rise and Recliner Chair
A rise and recliner chair is definitely our next big purchase. Every time we stay in an accessible cottage Bridget and I squabble over who gets the chair and having one at home would be a great addition to make your home more accessible.
Also, when you look at some of the modern styles of rising and recliners they don’t look like a mobility aid.
A simple yet effective solution to sitting comfortably. These u shaped neck cushions are ideal for home, in the car or when you travel.
We actually moved house to have a stairlift. Our previous property wasn’t suitable and at one point, Bridget was stuck upstairs for 8 weeks. Not only does a stairlift take away the effort of climbing stairs, it helps keep you independent.
Age UK has partnered with Handicare Accessibility to bring you a full range of stairlifts including straight, curved and outdoor lifts. Better still, they offer a no-obligation quote and price match guarantee.
Raised Toilet Seat
When we think of mobility we associate it with walking but mobility is so much more. One aspect of mobility which is less spoken about is using the toilet.
As well as grab rails around the toilet, the most useful aid is a raised toilet seat because it takes away a lot of the strain on your knees and hips when you’re using the toilet.
They’re not the prettiest mobility aid and most of us don’t want our homes to look like a hospital.
That said, when needs must, a sturdy free standing toilet frame can help you use the toilet independently which for me is the last piece of dignity I want to hold onto.
Easy Access Shower
Whenever we travel, an accessible bathroom is a deal breaker. And within the bathroom, an easy access shower is the single most important feature.
Fortunately, we have a wet room at home and whilst it’s usable, it’s dingy and out of date. Looking at the Age UK accessible shower range certainly, fills me with shower envy if there is such a thing?
Walk in Baths
For me, and this is wholly a personal thing, a walk in bath beats a shower any day. A soak in a nice warm bath is not only relaxing but therapeutic. But, the fear of not being able to get in and out of a bath or worse still, slipping, puts most people off.
When it comes to installing walk-in baths, all Age UK mobility baths are tailored to your individual needs, designed to blend with your existing decor, priced to suit most budgets and comes with a comprehensive parts and labour warranty. If you would like to explore your bathing options, ask for a free no obligation, no pressure quotation.
As you can see, there are many options to help make your home more accessible. Age UK is the UK’s biggest charity dedicated to helping people make the most of later life and all products and services supplied through Age UK Mobility come with that piece of mind.
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*This post was written in collaboration with Age UK. As always, all opinions are my own.