I was recently commissioned by Premier Care in Bathing to give my thoughts about talking to your parents about future-proofing their home. It’s a topic that resonated with me as my mother and I have had this very conversation recently.
My father died some years back, and at the time my mum was keen to stay in the house they both lived in for many years. It was a chalet bungalow, with two bedrooms on the ground floor along with a bathroom, as well as an upstairs bedroom and bathroom, which sounds very flexible. However, although the house was well designed inside there were around twenty steps to the front door, and a similarly steep back garden. My mother had great views, but it wasn’t the most accessible house as became clear when she broke her ankle. And, even without that, she admitted that she sometimes had problems getting in and out of the bath since a knee replacement.
Moving on a few years, mum had come to terms with the idea of moving. She says, “I knew it was time to make a move, because I didn’t want to get to the point where I couldn’t make choices about where I lived. I can think of nothing worse than being moved into residential care when it could be avoided if my house was more accessible.” We looked at various locations, and fortunately Mum decided our small seaside town was a great place to live.
We both looked out for the right property, and at the same time Mum put her place on the market. It didn’t take long to find the perfect place – we were very fortunate. It was a new build bungalow that had been slotted into a small space on a quiet road just 10 minutes away from where I live – perfect! What was even better was that the builder was still working on it.
Mum’s mobility isn’t as good as it used to be, despite the knee replacement. She says, “I liked the fact that the bungalow was all on one level, and a short walk from town. The small garden is just the right size for me to look after – gardening is one of my favourite hobbies.” She adds, “The man who was selling the house had bought the land and built the bungalow with his son. I talked to Antonia about what I might need to ensure this was a property I could stay in in the long term. The builder was very accommodating when we asked about some adaptations to the bathroom, and I was pleased to see that new building regulations meant that there was already flat access to the house and wide doorways.”
We arranged for the builder to fit a raised toilet seat which makes it easier to get on and off. The bathroom has a walk in shower, and we got a grab rail and folding seat fitted so Mum could wash sitting down. She says, “I couldn’t manage without this now. I’d recommend a non-slip bathmat too – it gives me confidence.”
Now, Mum is happily installed in her bungalow. It’s warm and well insulated and she is saving on heating bills. She likes working in her garden on as many days as possible, and enjoys going into town for shopping and activities when Covid allows. It’s much better for my peace of mind to know she is close at hand rather than a couple of hours away, and there’s no worry about her getting stuck in the bathroom. We can call round to each other very easily, and the kids enjoy walking to see their grandma when they aren’t at school. Her new home makes it possible for her to get on and live her life to the full.