Whether you are a senior ageing in place or have elderly loved ones living with you, it is important to ensure that your HDB flat remains safe and comfortable for them.
In 2012, HDB introduced the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme where eligible households can apply to make their homes more elder-friendly at a subsidised cost. Under EASE, seniors can opt to apply slip-resistant treatment to bathroom tiles, install grab bars, and install ramps to help navigate level differences.
Beyond EASE, here’s a quick rundown of ways to prevent unwanted falls and mishaps in the flat.
A dimly lit home can be dangerous for the elderly, so aim for adequate bright lighting throughout the home to help them clearly see where they are going.
Seniors also tend to lose strength as they age, and small changes can help them remain independent. These include adding doorknob grips or replacing them with levered handles, and switching out existing small light switches to those with big and easy-touch surfaces.
Balance issues are common among seniors, so remove slippery rugs from the floor. Alternatively, opt for non-slip carpets instead.
Also, as some seniors shuffle their feet when they walk, try to eliminate trip or fall hazards. Rearrange furniture to make pathways larger and easier to navigate, and ensure they are clear of electrical wiring and extension cords. This will be especially useful for wheelchair users.
If there is a level difference in the home, mark out uneven floor levels with paint or brightly-coloured tape.
Move frequently used items from high shelves and cabinets to lower areas or countertops, so seniors need not stand on a chair or ladder to reach for these things, which could lead to falls.
To ensure a safe working space, pad up corners and sharp table/cabinet edges, to prevent bumps and cuts. If feasible, use an induction hob that does not use open flames, and switch to appliances with automatic shut-off features.
At the same time, using colourful kitchenware that contrasts with the countertop can help seniors better navigate around the space.
Wet areas increase the risk of slips and falls. Under EASE, grab bars can support movement in and out of the showers, as well as help with the use of the toilet. In addition, slip-resistant tile treatment can help seniors move around more safely.
If space permits, consider installing a seat or bench in the shower to help those who have trouble standing or balancing for prolonged periods. Shower spaces can also be modified to have a step-free entry. Nightlights in the hallway can help seniors navigate safely to the bathroom at night.
An easy way to ensure the safety and comfort of seniors in the room is by adding rails to the bed. Bedrails not only prevent them from falling off the bed, they can also help with movements such as sitting up, when required.