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Staying mobile at home – out and about

As we age, our bodies change, and moving around isn’t as easy as it once was. The best way to stay mobile is to not stop in the first place. We can’t always control what happens to our bodies – genetics, long term health conditions or trauma can change our abilities to stay mobile. It’s really important that you don’t give up and keeping looking for ways that work best for you to keep you as independent as long as possible.
There are several common factors that can lead to an inability to get around. Reduced mobility due to an existing medical condition, illness or injury. Older age, low physical activity, obesity, impaired strength and balance can all play a role. Some of the less obvious factors can include depression, memory problems, recent hospitalization, fear of falling.
Let’s first work out how mobile you already are before making a plan – ask yourself these 2 questions:

1 For health or physical reasons, do you have difficulty climbing up 10 steps or walk outside for a quarter of a mile?
2 Because of underlying health or physical reasons, have you modified the way you climb 10 steps or walk outside for a quarter of a mile?

If you answered yes, and climbing stairs or walking any distance is hard for you, don’t stop but accept that this is difficult. Start thinking about what can be done to avoid further restrictions to you daily moving and how to allow yourself or, if you are looking after someone, them more time to adjust to their surrounds and age safely in place.

Balance can become an issue as we age. We just aren’t as steady on our feet as we once were, and it makes falling more likely. Maintaining an active lifestyle and a healthy weight can help. Strength training is also a good way to improve your balance.

If exercise has been part of your daily routine since you were young, then make sure to keep walking, running, swimming – whatever it is – that keeps you moving. It’s not just about maintaining your health, it also helps ensure your independence for a lot longer.

Some falls can result in bumps or bruises, others lead to broken bones. Either way, it’s not something you want to do. Certain diseases, like diabetes, can make you more prone to fall.
Serious health events like a stroke can also make falling more likely. But sometimes, staying on your feet may be as simple as understanding the side effects of the medications you take. Some drugs can cause dizziness on their own or when coupled with another. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have fallen recently, feel dizzy often or are unsteady on your feet.

The Good News
There are some simple ways to protect yourself from falling at home:
– Make sure you have plenty of light in your house, so you can see where you are going.
– Keep your floors clutter free and either secure or remove loose rugs.
– A healthy balanced diet with plenty of vitamin D and calcium will help keep your bones strong.
– It’s also important to get your eyes checked annually. A change in your prescription can cause you to not see as well as you need to and take a tumble.

If you need something to help you get around, you’re not alone. Over 2 million households in the UK have some form of equipment adaptation and nearly one in four of the population over 65, will regularly use a mobility aid such as a walking stick, walker or rollator, wheelchair or scooter. And it’s not uncommon for someone to use more than one device.

What are some quality everyday devices for staying mobile?

Walking stick, cane
You can use a walking stick to give you extra support and help with your balance. It can give you the confidence to keep moving and make walking less painful.
There are many different types so be sure to check you choose one that is the correct height for you. Do you want left handed or right handed? Would a seat be useful so you can rest? We recommend you contact your local GP surgery and talk to your Doctor or Nurse.

Walking frame, zimmer frame or rollator
More support than a walking stick, these can be used around the home or out and about. You can borrow walking frames from the NHS so speak to you your GP, local hospital or healthcare professional. Visit your local mobility dealer who can also give specialist advice and let you try before you buy.

Wheelchair
If you struggle to get about, recovering from an injury or are disabled, you can use a wheelchair. Short term use after an injury, you may be provided one free by your local hospital. There are local organisations like the Red Cross or Motability schemes who you can hire from.
When looking got purchase consider if you are going to push yourself or have someone else to help. How often and where you will need to use it – indoor, outdoors or both. Cost involved to maintain and repair.

Scooter
A mobility scooter can be useful if you struggle to walk and need to travel a long distance. These are not available on the NHS. The Motability scheme can help if you want to hire or buy a scooter. It allows some people to use their benefits to pay for one. To find out more visit www.motability.co.uk

Stair lift
If climbing or descending your stairs has become difficult, there are a number of options that can make your life easier. The least popular choice is to consider moving to a single floor accommodation so that stairs are no longer part of your daily living.
A stair lift can be a practical and far more cost effective and long-term option. Choosing a stair lift should be done carefully as there is a lot to consider. What will fit your staircase, what type of stair lift will suit your needs, how much budget do you have – it is a good idea to speak to your GP or the healthcare professional you regular see as well as talking to your family. Friends may be able to recommend from their own experiences.

What other adaptive aids can help you around the home

There are a host of other gadgets that can help you stay in your home for as long as possible. Grab bars are fairly easy to install and you can put up as many as you like in your home. Usually fitted in the bathroom, near the toilet or the bath. The handles can be fixed permanently on the wall, or you can choose a type that uses suction cups, so you can take them with you when you travel. Not sure which grab rail is right for you – 2 handy guides to read
Simple home adaptations – which grab rail to choose
Where to fit a grab rail in your home

The bath can be an area of concern – getting in as well as getting out – and being able to change position whilst you wash. Bath board or shower boards allow you to sit over the bath whilst you wash. We’ve also introduced a range of shower seats that fold neatly out the way if someone else uses the bathroom too – click here for more information

Keep active keep moving

Maintaining your ability to move around freely or with little help doesn’t just help keep your independence. It’s good for your mental and emotional health. Not being able to go to the grocery or to another room in your house can really take its toll. Restricted mobility can easily lead to depression and isolation because we don’t like to be dependent on others for help. The truth is – there are people who love you and are willing to help you if you ask. Please don’t be afraid or too proud to get a device if you need one. It could be the difference in being able to stay in the home you love for longer.

Helping you and those you care for during lockdown

Make every day easier

The COVID-19 crisis is placing a lot of pressure on hospital systems. To support our NHS frontline services, we need to keep people who don’t need this level of care in the community, safe at home. By preventing falls and related fractures, we can avoid A&E admission too.

Many hospitals across the UK need to make room for Covid19 patients so you may find that the person you care for is discharged a little earlier than you expected. Whether recovering from a short injury or managing a long term health condition they may still need support at home which because of current guidelines, may mean you cannot be there to help.

With the government urging everyone to stay at home, particularly the elderly and vulnerable – supporting your loved ones from a distance can be a real worry. The good news is you can help:

  • Boost confidence with aids to help make everyday tasks easier, reducing pain and discomfort
  • Maintain independence with daily tasks of self care without worry of a fall
  • Strong and practical support to move safely around the home

What is safe & practical

You want to ensure those you care for when you cannot be with them are staying safe and comfortable at home. Now is the time to have that conversation with them about their daily tasks which may include taking medication, getting dressed, going to the bathroom, preparing food – to make sure they are confident doing everything they need.

Everyone’s needs are different but simple changes around the home can make all the difference – here’s a quick 2 min home safety guide checklist as a starter conversation you can use:

  • Rooms and stairways are clutter-free

Remove all clutter, such as stacks of old newspapers and magazines, trailing wires especially from hallways and staircases. Keeping access routes around the house clear makes good sense.

  • Grab bars and handrails are brilliant safety devices

Bending over to get dressed can leave you light headed – leave clothes on a chair ready for the next day.

Going up and down stairs, getting on and off the toilet, and stepping in and out of the bath a  worry and a struggle? There are a range of grab rails available and not all of them need to be professionally fitted. Read our free grab rail guide here

  • Light it right

Inadequate lighting can be another major hazard. It is quite normal to need to go the toilet in the night – suggest fitting a night-light in bedrooms, stairs and bathrooms to give better guidance moving around. These can be bought from many online retailers, shipped direct and then simply stuck to bedside cabinet or on the landing

  • Make it nonslip

Baths and showers, as well as floors in kitchens, bathrooms, and porches, can become extremely dangerous when wet – the bathroom is the most common place for a fall to happen. Remove loose rugs and replace with non-slip mats – you can put one in the bath too.

  • Keep safe

Making sure we keep a healthy diet and hydrated, don’t forget the kitchen:

  • Keep climbing, stretching and bending to a minimum, move what you use regularly to a waist height shelf
  • Avoid balancing on steps to reach
  • Make sure all hazardous cleaning materials are stored away from the cooker

Getting help with tasks you or they can’t do safely is just as important too – the focus here is to maintain normal routines as best as is practical.

Keeping in touch

During these uncertain times, keeping in touch is more important than ever.

  • Making sure the home phone is near to hand, it might be an idea to have a second handset by the bedside
  • Discuss activities that can be done within the home to avoid boredom and support rehabilitation. Gentle stretching exercises are good for us all.
  • Social media is a fantastic way to keep in touch across friends, family and all ages – parents, grandparents, children, nephews and nieces.
  • Build a schedule across your friends/family network to keep in touch routinely. You can add a theme adding in new topics – it might be to swap recipes, do a quiz, set up your own book club
  • Write a letter, walking to post a letter can be part of your daily exercise.

 

Maintain confidence in daily tasks of self care – with the reassurance and expert advice of Occupational Therapists who have been prescribing our equipment for the last 30 years and more, across the UK and around the world.

To view our range of Everyday essential to help you and your family stay independent during lockdown – visit www.hhadlessentials.co.uk/shop

Have a question, want to chat

  • Online chat on the websitehttps://www.hhadlessentials.co.uk/wp-admin/_wp_link_placeholder
  • Call 01531 635678, we are working remotely from home but still here to help
  • Email shop@helpinghand.co.uk

 

Please remember to look after yourself and those you care for and for the latest updates, visit www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-update

Caring for someone and Coronavirus

With the continuing and evolving situation on coronavirus, we’ve put together our own checklist from what we are doing in the business to help those of you who help someone else.

As we all know, if you are worried that you or someone you look after may be at risk, call NHS 111. When you call, let them know that you are a carer. The NHS have also set up direct guidance through an online helpline – if you don’t have the web address https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19

Dialling 111 is the same whether you live in England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales

What else should we be thinking of doing:

Be prepared – lets get planning

  • How do we ensure we can continue to provide our service if we have a lot of people who cannot come to work – we have a contingency plan. If you become poorly or need to self-isolate, have you talked with other family members, close neighbours or trusted friends to provide cover? Now is a good time because the critical role you provide will not suddenly stop.
  • Write out a list for you and all you care for including
  1. contact details of key support and medical support professionals
  2. medication taken including schedule of what needs to be taken when and how
  3. details of any ongoing treatment
  4. repeat prescriptions and collection. Does your local pharmacy offer a repeat prescription delivery service?
  • Involve other family members to share the responsibility
  • Contact your local Social services/Care service provider to find out what emergency service support they might be able to offer you. In some areas, there is an emergency care scheme which you can register for, as a carer. They will help you create an ‘emergency’ plan.
  • Use technology! If someone you care for lives a distance away, and you cannot get to them – what ways can you keep in touch to reassure you and them, they are not alone. There are a wide range of apps and devices available that can make keeping in touch and coordinating care among friends and family for the person you are looking after easier.
  1. Heating and light control
  2. Door entry system
  3. Special phones to help those hard of hearing or with memory loss
  4. Personal alrm/falls monitor
  5. Digital medication reminder

Giving you peace of mind when you cannot be around.

Keep well, keep safe

Are you a carer?

Many people look after someone else but do not realise that they are carers.

If you look after a partner, relative or friend regularly to help them with their daily living because they are ill due to physical or mental health, or cannot manage without your support, you could be a carer, even if you don’t think of yourself as one.

Becoming a carer can happen gradually or very suddenly. It can last for years or days. Each caring role is different too, for example you might:

  • Drop round each day to keep someone company or cook their meals
  • Visit a friend or relative once a month, who lives far away, to see how they are doing
  • Move in with someone to help them recover after a fall or major surgery
  • Provide physical and/or emotional support
  • Be on hand 24 hours a day to provide care

There are many ways that you might care for someone.

In the UK today, around 6.5 million people are recognised as carers, the equivalent of 1 in 10 adults. Did you know as many as one in five children and young people are young carers too?

New to caring – quick 5 point checklist

Its normal to become overwhelmed and confused. Taking one day at a time, here are 5 quick tips to get started:

1 Learn about the diagnosis of the person you are looking after. It will help you and them understand the illness and how to plan ahead

2 Talk together to understand their wishes. Conversations early on finance and healthcare are better prepared than in emergency.

3 Bring together the whole family involved to understand what is needed, including who you are caring for. It is important to share the role and ask each other for help/

4 Research what local services are available and what support is available. We discuss this in a little more detail later.

5 Asking for help and support. Local and online support groups are very useful with like-minded people so you do not need to feel alone.

Getting support

Caring for an older adult can be exhausting, overwhelming, frustrating, lonely, and often thankless. It’s no wonder so many caregivers struggle with stress-related health conditions.

As a carer, it is important to remember your health and how to manage/reduce stress to help manage the worries and frustrations that come with caregiving.

Getting support for you as well as those you care for is just as important. You should start by asking your local council/adult social services for a needs assessment for who you are caring for and a carers assessment for you.

Did you know that there is help and support that’s available to everyone which is free.  It is not means-tested and it does not matter what your income is.

This free care includes:

  • some equipment and home adaptations
  • benefits
  • help after coming home from hospital
  • NHS continuing healthcare
  • nursing in a care home (NHS-funded nursing care)

 

Short term care

After a stay in hospital or to prevent admission to hospital, you may be eligible for care and support at home for up to 6 weeks. This is known as intermediate care or Reablement. The idea is to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.

Your care package may include equipment or home adaptations to help you get around the house. It might be home help from a paid carer for tasks like cleaning, getting washed and dressed, using the toilet.

Making caring visible

Caring can be extremely complicated as well as emotionally and physically exhausting.

In addition to finding out with services, advice and support is available, building a better understanding amongst friends and family to avoid feeling isolated has real benefits.

Gentle words of encouragement from someone who understands you situation can be a lifeline. Raising awareness, building a support network to share the responsibilities and share experiences can also forge new friendships.

Whilst it might be human nature that we focus on what went wrong, what needs to improve, or knowing future challenges – don’t forget about all the amazing things you accomplish every day.

Do you need to wear Compression stockings?

Doctors recommend wearing compression stockings for a variety of medical problems. Compression stockings compress your legs, to increase circulation up and down the legs and feet. Compression stockings are commonly used to prevent and treat condition such as DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot deep in the vein); varicose veins and venous leg ulcers. You may also be recommended post surgery.

Putting socks on can be a real struggle, compression stockings are no easier. You might already be using a sock aid but these will not work with compression stockings.

If your doctor has recommended that you begin wearing compression stockings, it’s really important that you understand why, how to put them on – or ask someone to help you, and how to look after them.

5 benefits of wearing compression socks:

  1. Improve venous return
  2. Prevent venous blood from pooling in the legs
  3. Decrease the risk of blood clots
  4. Lessen leg swelling
  5. Improve symptoms of vein disease

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that occurs when blood clots form in veins deep inside your body. These clots can occur anywhere in the body. However, this condition often affects the lower legs or thighs.

Symptoms of DVT include swelling, pain or tenderness, and skin that may feel warm to the touch.

DVT can happen to anyone. But you have a greater risk of developing DVT after a surgery or trauma. Being overweight and smoking are also risk factors.

Since DVT can lead to serious complications, your doctor may recommend DVT compression stockings to reduce swelling and improve blood flow to your heart and lungs. If you’re not familiar with how these stockings work, here’s what you need to know.

How do compression stockings work?

Compression stockings are like socks or tights, but they’re made from a different material and serve a different purpose.

While you may wear ordinary stockings for style or to protect your legs, compression stockings have an elastic fabric designed to fit tightly around the ankles, legs, and thighs. These stockings are tighter around the ankle and less tight around the calves and thighs.

The pressure created by the stockings pushes fluid up the leg, which allows blood to flow freely from the legs to the heart. Compression stockings not only improve blood flow, but also reduce swelling and pain. They are particularly recommended for the prevention of DVT because the pressure stops blood from pooling and clotting.

Wearing compression stockings

If you experience leg trauma or have surgery, your doctor may prescribe compression stockings for use during your hospital stay or at home. You can also buy them from a pharmacy or a medical supply store.

These stockings can be worn after a DVT diagnosis to alleviate some of the discomfort and swelling. Compression stockings may also be worn as a preventative measure.

5 do’s

  • Do carefully measure your legs to ensure you get the right size. You want to ensure you get the medical benefit and that they are as comfortable as possible to wear all day.
  • Do look after them – a gentle wash every day you wear them is recommended, not only for hygiene but to get the longest use of them. They will stretch over your legs so by washing, it helps them to keep their shape. Please check the instruction with your stockings on recommended cleaning products.
  • Do put your stockings on first thing in the morning, every day. Legs and feet are less swollen at the beginning of the day and you will get the maximum benefit as you are active throughout the day.
  • Do ask for help – compression stockings are tight, so if you find it hard to put them on, or bending down can be a challenge, consider asking a partner or friend to help you. Your stocking may come with a silky sleeve – stocking donner – or you can find a range of different gadgets to help you or a carer to help with this daily task.  Stretching the stocking over the foot is often the biggest challenge. Avoid snagging the stocking with your finger nails or rings. With extra grip to open wide, a frame can make it quicker & easier for you or someone who helps you. Check that you can use seating, standing or lying – whichever is the most stable for you.
  • Do replace when they start to wear – every 3-6 months. The elastic will stretch and when they start to sag is a good indicator that they might be due a change.

5 don’ts  

  • Don’t roll them up to put on or take off. This will create a tight band which can restrict your circulation as well as being very painful.
  • Don’t wear at night. Unless your doctor has specifically advised to. When we are lying down, we are in a nice neutral position which supports blood flow. Having your legs above your heart level, supports blood flow so you could pop a couple of pillows under your feet.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals to wash the stockings, these can be harmful to the skin and the material
  • Avoid lotions, creams and oils on the skin prior to getting dressed – it’s better to apply moisturiser in the evening. Applying a little talc can make it smoother to pull up.
  • Don’t alter/cut the compression stockings. They are graduated, meaning the compression is strongest at the foot/ankle and gets lighter as you progress up the leg. Cutting off the foot area may cause them to roll up & become uncomfortable.

Putting on compression stocking is not easy. Here is a short video we have made to help you, using the Ezy-on:

You might like

 

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Avoiding falls

Whatever our age, keeping our body and mind as fit and healthy as we can is good for our balance, movement and for preventing injury. Bones tend to become thinner and weaker as we grow older. Developing conditions such as osteoporosis, cause the bones to break more easily so its important to avoid trips and falls that can result in a fracture, and to keep our body strong to try reduce the risk of falling.

Falling as we get older is quite common, and although most falls don’t cause serious injury they can leave us feeling quite distressed. Whether it’s slippery floors, rickety stairs, or electrical cords, some of the most common causes of falls are in the home where you might have a false sense of security. That’s why fall prevention starts with creating a safe living space. Making some simple changes to your home can make it more comfortable for you. It’s not always easy to know where to start – especially if you’ve lived in your house a long time.

Your home

  • Rooms and stairways are clutter-free and well-equipped with lighting, handrails, grab bars

Remove all clutter, such as stacks of old newspapers and magazines, trailing wires especially from hallways and staircases. Keep your access routes around the house clear makes good sense.

Check every room and hallway, looking for items such as loose or frayed carpet, slippery throw rugs, or wood floorboards that stick up. Repair, remove, or replace.

Grab bars and handrails are brilliant safety devices, for going up and down stairs, getting on and off the toilet, and stepping in and out of the bath without injuring yourself.

  • Light it right 

    Inadequate lighting can be another major hazard.Fitting brighter light bulbs where needed, particularly in stairways and narrow hallways.

    Night-lights in bedrooms, stairs and bathrooms will give better guidance at night. You might like a small stick on motion sensor (PIR) version, stuck to bedside cabinet or on the landing.

  • Make it nonslip 

    Baths and showers, as well as floors in kitchens, bathrooms, and porches, can become extremely dangerous when wet.Add carpet grip underneath, remove loose rugs and replace with non-slip mats.

  • Keep safe 

    Mop up spillages straight away so there is no risk of slipping.Keep climbing, stretching and bending to a minimum.

    Avoid balancing on steps to reach.

    Move what you use regularly to a waist height shelf.

    Get help with tasks you can’t do safely on your own.

You

Some health conditions, medications and footwear can affect your ability to stay steady on your feet. You might not notice your health changing as it can happen gradually, it’s important to have regular check ups so any issues can be picked up before they cause a fall. Here are a few tips to help you prevent a fall:

  • Keep active 

    Regular exercise can reduce your risk of falling. Simple stretches to loosen up in the morning before you start your day. It might be walking or going dancing with friends to keep fit. Joining a group is also a great way to socialise and meet new people.Weight-bearing exercise – where you support your own body weight through your feet and legs or arms and hands – are good for helping to maintain bone strength. Exercises to improve and maintain sensation in your feet, to keep the muscles and joints in your feet and ankles flexible are also useful.

    Everyday health should be enjoyable – walk, bike, swim, jog, take the stairs – add years to your life and life to your years.

  • Health & wellness at home 

    Like our health, hearing loss is gradual and will affect over 40% of people over 50. As well as being frustrating, it can be dangerous if you are unable to hear warnings. Talk to your doctor and explain how this is affecting your day to day living is a good starting point.Have your eyesight & glasses checked regularly, at least every 2 years. Our eyesight changes as we age and can lead to a trip or loss of balance.

    Look after your feet by trimming toenails, using a moisturiser, wearing well-fitting shoes and seeing a GP or chiropodist about any problems.

    Some medicines may make you more susceptible to falls and some react if taken together. Ensure your GP is aware of all medication you are taking.

  • Give yourself time 

    Move more carefully and give yourself time. Moving too quickly from sitting to standing can make you feel light headed or dizzy.Taking a pause before moving once standing up or going to climb the stairs will help.

    Don’t use a walking aid to get in or out of your chair. Push up on the arms of the chair and then take hold of the walking aid.

  • Plan ahead 

    Have a falls plan including who to call and how to get help if you do fall.Flagging a contact on your mobile phone with the title ‘ICE*’ can help emergency services if you live alone (*in case of emergency).

    Wearable personal alarms allow you to call if you feel unwell, fall or cannot reach a telephone.

If you’ve had a fall or you feel your balance isn’t as good as it was, it’s natural to feel worried about falling – the good news is there are lots of things you can do to stay steady on your feet, feel more confident and in control.

19 ways to use your reacher/grabber out and about

1 Pick up the dogs ball

2 Take my folding one with me when I go shopping, I don’t need to ask for help

3 Collect fallen fruit in the garden

4 Hanging up the bird feeder

5 Reach my keys that slid down the side of the car seat

6 Hold my boots in place to put on so I don’t need to bend down

7 Hung up my garden lights for a party

8 Got the Frisbee out the tree when the grandchildren came to play

9 Pick up the post

10 Bring in the milk

11 Pull the washing off the line

12 Now I can reach the ticket machine at the barrier without having to get out the car

13 Reach into the boot of the car

14 Snake catcher

15 Hold cloth to wipe top of the windows

16 Pull down the awning

17 Easy to reach the ornament that fell into the pond

18 Hang up the netting over the fruit bushes

19 Keep my independence in daily routines when I go to stay with my friends/family & on holiday

Did you know we have an exclusive range of Hand tools for outdoor use collecting litter – visit www.HHEnvironmental.co.uk to find out more. Every piece of litter collected could save an animal and protect our green spaces, it just takes 2 minutes! Love where we live, we only have one planet.

 

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Top 23 ways to use your reacher/grabber around the home

1 Grab where I can’t reach from my wheelchair

2 The magnet is ideal to pick up my hearing aid battery

3 Stick clip is brilliant, I can clip my hand torch to it to shine a light on what I want to pick up

4 Easy to reach the remote control when I am sitting down

5 The soft jaw on the Handigrip means I can even pick up coins off the floor

6 Much easier for me now to open and close my curtains

7 Open kitchen cupboard to get food

8 Reach into the medicine cupboard to get my pills

9 I’d just sat down but left my reading glassed on the coffee table, managed with my reacher!

10 Use it every day to pick up and put down my cats food bowl

11 Managed to catch a spider

12 Picking up the grandchildren’s toys

13 Pulling up my socks that keep sliding down

14 Grab my trousers off the chair to get dressed

15 Pick up my other reacher

16 Reach behind the sofa to get loose change

17 Hold cloth to wipe the top of the cooker hood

18 Pick up my drink whilst feeding the baby

19 Open and close the window

20 Reach my coat & dog lead off the hook

21 Load/empty the washing machine

22 Hold sponge to clean top of windows

23 Pick up post off the mat

 

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Grab rails – which to choose

Being able to live in your home and maintain your independence as long as possible is important. But small changes like adding grab bars around your home can prolong your independence, your quality of life and freedom to continue living as you have been.

There are a number of reasons why you may be feeling unstable on your feet – such as pain or weakness in your legs, breathlessness, back pain, dizziness or fatigue… A grab rail can be fitted anywhere in your home where you need extra support – and give you the confidence to move around safely.

Grab rails are simple, sturdy supporters  – from contemporary styles to build your own systems, choose the style that best suits you.

Here are just 5 different ways you might use a grab rail:

  • To push or pull up with when standing up
  • A steadying support when going to sit down
  • An extra grip to hold on to when transferring from one position to another
  • For balance when walking around the home, up/down stairs, over the doorstep
  • Extra support when carrying items

A grab rail can be fitted anywhere that you need extra support. If you find you are using a wall, radiator or door-frame for support, a grab rail would be safer.

What types of grab rails are there?

The quick answer is either fixed with screws or attached by suction pads…

1 Straight rails

These are wall-fixed rails which run in one direction only. They can be fixed in a horizontal or a vertical position, or at an incline or angle.

Horizontal rails may help when pushing up from sitting and a little extra support when lowering down – getting on to the toilet for example. Most of us find it easier to push down on a rail rather than pull on one, so horizontal rails are more commonly used. Horizontal grab bars allow you to rotate your body, are sturdy when you pull yourself up to stand and make it easier to get in and out of a wheelchair and into bed, chair or bath. They are limited to a fixed height, so that can be a downside. They can also make it uncomfortable for arthritis sufferers because of the way you have to rotate your wrist.

A vertical rails may help you when pulling up into a standing position or just to maintain balance. Vertical grab bars are easier to grip, help with limited balance and are easier to use for people with arthritis. Because of the direction though, vertical grab bars provide less wall coverage when you’re walking than other grab bars.

Setting the grab rail at an angle can ensure a steadying support – e.g. standing up from a bath board to shower, fitting the rail at an angle of 45 degrees up and away from you. This will keep your wrist in a neutral position. It may also not be necessary to lean as far forward to grasp the rail at the lower end. You can then allow your hand to travel up the rail to maintain the support as you go to standing. Diagonal grab bars can accommodate several different heights too.

2 System rails

Need a longer length or have a larger area together, put together to make a customised shape. Fix to the wall around the bathroom with bends and angles to suit you.

3 Suction pad rails

Using air pressure to fit grab handles allows an easier and quicker installation, and unlikely that you will need to hire someone to fit. Nowadays, some include indicators to let you know if the attachment is safe enough. They can only be fitted on flat and non-porous surfaces. You must be careful leaning on them and they tend loosen over time, check each time before use and if unsure, refit again.

Experimenting with suction pad grab rails to make sure when you permanently fix, they will be in the right place. If recovering from minor surgery or fracture, they can add ease recovery and boost confidence. Since they are portable, you can take them with you when you travel too.

Choosing which one and where to fit will also depend upon your grip, arm strength and space available. We would encourage you to talk to family members and your Healthcare professional if you are unsure, before purchase.

Our grab rail range is for permanently fixing to the wall with the option to have a combination of  vertical and horizontal rails to help you. They will need a handy man to drill to the wall.

Where to position your rails

Correct positioning of grab rails is important to ensure they provide the support, where necessary, to perform specific tasks. Check out online guides on how to fit.  We include a fitting guide with each product.

Remember, you will need to consider

  • What you need & where
  • the amount of support you require
  • your height and weight
  • the amount of mobility and strength you have in your hands, arms and shoulders.

Where you shouldn’t fit grab rails

You shouldn’t fix rails to a bathroom floor that has been sealed and made waterproof, as it will destroy the seal and potentially become costly to repair.

 

For more information, visit

www.asksara.dlf.org.uk

 

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Fitting a grab rail around the home

Poor balance or reduced mobility can make it hard to move safely around your home. Grab rails (also known as grab bars) are a simple adaptation that give you that extra confidence when negotiating steps or stairs. When you want to change position and need a little leverage, such as getting on and off the toilet or in and out of the bath. We’ve written a handy guide on the different types of grab rails to help you choose which is right for you.

Around the home

1. In the bathroom

As we age, the bathroom can become a tricky place. The inability to get around as well as we once could, mixed with wet, slippery surfaces can create a dangerous combination. Falls can cause everything from bruises to broken bones to serious head injuries. The fear of falling and getting hurt can keep you from doing a lot of things – including taking a bath. Fitting grab bars in your shower can give you the confidence and stability you need to bathe every day, reducing the chance of infections.

The shower or bath isn’t the only place where falls can occur. Sitting down and getting off the toilet can cause you to take a tumble as well. Sometimes, it’s just because we are getting older and our balance isn’t as good as it once was. Other risk factors can be caused from dehydration or medication that can cause dizziness or light-headedness if you get up too quickly.

Here are a few suggestions of where you might fit a grab rail in your bathroom:

  • When standing from a sitting position in the bath you may find it helpful to hold one horizontal wall-fixed grab rail (placed above the bath) with one hand and use the outer rim of the bath with the other hand to push against. The rail can be used in combination with a bath board – holding onto the rail as you sit down, turn and lift legs into or out of the bath.
  • Standing up in the bath, whilst showering or when standing up to get over the bath, you may find a vertical rail helpful.
  • A fixed rail beside your shower seat can help prevent sliding off a wet, slippery seat.
  • There are many different types of adaptations for safe transfer on and off the toilet – read our guide on choosing a toilet frame or seat raiser, to decide what is right for you and the space you have available.
  • If you have the same strength on both sides, it is quite common to fit supports on both sides to enable you to use both arms. Only able to fit one rail, using an angled fitting that you can put the weight of your arm on as you pull up might be helpful.
  • A handy tip is to sit on the toilet and work out how best you get up. Do talk to your local healthcare professional if you are in any way considered getting on/off the toilet.

2. Getting out of bed

Weak brittle bones can make it difficult to get up. We can easily become disorientated, particularly when getting up in the night. Bed rails can be fitted to keep a loved one from falling out of bed. A grab rail by the side of the bed, can be used to pull up to sitting or standing – and in reverse getting into bed. You might also use to hold on to when you want to change position when lying down.

3. Daytime seating

Getting up from your favourite chair can be difficult too. A grab rail may have limited success because of the strength needed to pull up.

Are you helping someone stand up from a chair? Here’s a quick checklist that might help you and them:

  1. Placing hands firmly on arm rest, ask your family or friend to manoeuvre to the front of the chair and pull feet back under their chair to be ready to stand.
  2. Ensure feet can be firmly planted on the floor, not on tip toes and not too close together to give a stable base to stand up. Make sure wearing suitable footwear or non slip socks to avoid sliding.
  3. Standing in front, block their knees with your knees
  4. Ask them to lean forwards, bringing their head and shoulder over their knees and keeping head looking forward.
  5. Ask them to use the arms on their chair and legs to push up to a stand.

Never should you pull a person up by their arms, hold onto their trunk or hips. Stand as close as possible to the person and be kind to your back.

There are many options of how you can adapt existing seating – chair raisers, high seat cushions, back cushions before considering changing to a new riser recliner or Standing chair.

4. Going outside/halls/stairs

It makes sense to have additional rails next to the front and back door if there are steps leading up to them, as well as on uneven paths or steps within the garden area. They are especially important here if the area becomes slippery in wet weather.

Stairs are a particularly risky area for falls, so it’s important to take care to make them as safe as possible. If you need additional support on the stairs and have only one rail, then consider fitting a second one.

It should run the length of the stairs, and best practice would be to join the ends when the rail needs to run around a corner or up a second flight. This will provide continuous support and look more aesthetically pleasing, too.

The rail should also extend beyond the bottom and top of the stairs to provide a handhold on the level surface. If the wall ends suddenly, or if there’s a door at either end of the stairs, consider installing a short vertical rail so you can move your hand from the stair rail to a short rail on the landing to enable you to get your balance.

A bright coloured grab rail is also a great option for anyone with low vision or dementia.

Any fall and subsequent injury to yourself can hit your confidence in maintaining your independence. It’s better to be proactive, to ensure neither of those things happen. A simple choice to installing grab bars in your bathroom will help you maintain your balance and stability and give you the peace of mind you need to be maintain your personal care and manage yourself, without having to ask for help or being afraid of falling.

For more information on making your home safe and Dementia friendly click here

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