Living with sight, hearing or memory loss at home

Rear view of a mature adult male''s ear, He is wearing a hearing aid and glasses,    *    *    *    *    *  13076043Cap

As we grow older, eyesight, hearing and memory loss can all cause a problem not only when out and about, but at home too. If you're worried and struggling with the day-to-day, here are some tips on adapting the home to make life easier, and how you may be able to get help funding repairs and improvements.

Sight loss
Deteriorating sight can make simply moving around the home tricky, particularly if there are trip hazards. Wires, loose carpets and clutter can all pose potential problems, so if possible, ask a family member or friend to help make simple repairs to reduce the chances of falling.

Increasing the amount of natural light in the property can also help, but where there is no more that can be done, changing the colour scheme inside can make it easier to see things, and coloured tape along borders and steps may make them more obvious. There is also plenty of technology to assist, from talking clocks and watches to appliances with raised markings or tactile faces. For more information and advice, contact the RNIB.

Hearing loss
While hearing loss doesn't affect the ability to move around the home, it can be a problem when it comes to safety and security. Therefore it is worth looking into equipment that can help, such as flashing door bells and smoke alarms, and in the case of the latter, wireless alarms that are linked so that if one goes off, they all do. Some even come with vibrating pads to keep under the pillow and alert you should a fire occur during the night.

Similarly, telephones that are either voice or text-based are available, some of which include a flashing beacon to get your attention should the phone ring.

Where both hearing and eyesight present a combined problem, the charity Sense can provide information, advice and support - so visit the website or contact 0300 330 9256.

Memory loss
When forgetfulness starts to interfere with your ability to organise your day, it is important to get help. This can be in the form of technology such as calendar clocks that display the date, day and time, item locators - small tags that you can attach to important items - that enable you to press a button and listen for the beep to help you find things.

Mobile phones can also come in very handy. Perhaps a friend or family member can help you set up reminders for appointments or important tasks. You can also use a mobile phone to enable someone you trust to keep track of you if you worry about going out alone. Using GPS linked either to a mobile phone or other device, your relative or friend will know where you are in case you get into trouble or get lost.

However, if memory loss is putting you in danger or seriously affecting your quality of life, it is essential that you visit your GP for advice on how you might be able to get help.

Help with adaptations and equipment
Whether you are worried about deteriorating sight, hearing or memory, it is always worth visiting your GP first of all. They may be able to refer you for a free sight and hearing tests, and many aids for both are available via the NHS.

For changes or repairs that need to be made around the home to help you with day-to-day living, contact your local authority. Councils can arrange for social services to come and assess your needs, and you may get some repairs or small adaptations made free of charge, or you might be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant via the housing department. In addition, Age UK offers handy person schemes to older people in certain areas, and can assist with small repairs if you meet certain criteria. In Wales, Age Cymru offer a similar scheme, and in Scotland, contact Care and Repair Scotland to see if you can get help.

Do you have an elderly friend or relative who has managed to retain their independence with the help of home adaptations or technology? What advice would you give to others in the same situation? Leave your comments below...
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