Making your home conducive for your elderly family members

Wednesday August 12 2020
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Making the home conducive for the elderly is something many households don’t plan for, yet, at one time, they need to host loved ones when they visit. Photo | Internet.

During last Christmas holidays, Sheila Akiteng, picked up her 70 year-old mother, from Soroti, the family’s ancestral home, to the city so that they could enjoy the festive season together.

In the past years, Akiteng was the one travelling to the village to spend Christmas with her mother, but in 2019, she decided to change routine by instead bringing her mother to the city centre.
Akiteng lives with her husband and two children at their three bedroomed residence located somewhere in Bukoto, a suburb Kampala City.

But in order to make her mother’s stay at the residence comfortable, Akiteng, had to make a few adjustments in the home.
“I had a discussion with my husband who also agreed to the idea of making these changes around the house,” she says.

So what adjustments were made? Since the bedrooms were all occupied, Akiteng made arrangements for her mother to share a bedroom with her daughter, aged 14 . Her son stayed in the other room while the Master bedroom was occupied by the couple.
“I had to talk to my girl including asking for permission on whether it was okay for the grandmother to share a room with her,” Akiteng says, adding, “Well, you know girls that age, she reluctantly agreed to the arrangement.”

They bought a spare mattress and laid it on one part of the bedroom floor for the old woman to use. A mosquito net was installed as well. When it came to meals, Akiteng says they normally prepared local dishes for the old woman. These dishes mainly included; ugali, posho, sweet potatoes and pasted soups, among other local delicacies. During her free time, the old woman enjoyed helping her daughter in gardening. Sometimes, the mother and daughter duo enjoyed watching Nigerian movies on television. The old woman eventually returned to Soroti on New Year’s Day.

Are your home structures conducive for the elderly family members?
About three years back, John Mukasa says he brought his ailing father (aged 80 years at the time) from the village to stay with him in his rental apartment in Namugongo, a suburb located in outskirts of the city centre.
The rental apartment had four floors and Mukasa stayed on the top level. This became a huge problem while father was under his care.

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“I was always taking my father in and out of the house for treatment at different health centres in town. Walking up and down those stairs was always inconveniencing for him. He would always complain that the stairs were too many, hence, making him easily tired,” Mukasa says, adding, “Besides, daddy was also nursing leg injuries sustained from a bicycle accident.”
So what did Mukasa eventually do to ensure that the old man was comfortable? He opted to rent for his father a self-contained room in one of the neighborhood (bungalow structured) guest houses. Shortly after this new arrangement, his father stopped complaining.

And on this note, Paul Kironde, a real estate dealer and broker says that the needs of elderly persons also need to a highly considered on occasions we bring them to stay in our respective homes.

Mind about their well-being
It is important that there are structures within the home that can provide comfort for such elderly persons, despite their disability.
“Mind about their well-being as they stay with you. If you can, organise for them their own bedroom, bathroom and toilet facilities as well as area of entertainment, among other crucial facilities,” Kironde says.
Giving them their own space will at least give them some kind of privacy, away from other intruding members of the family.

Make the outdoors conducive for them
If you have hosted an elderly family member before in your home, you might have noticed how they love the outdoors. For such reasons, try and make the outdoors conducive for them. For instance, buy for that elderly woman a mat which she can use while sitting on the veranda. If it’s not a mat, a comfortable chair will do either for her or the old man. This can then be placed under some shed and in return, they will sit here and comfortably enjoy the outside air, warmth or sunshine.

What if you are accommodating an elderly person with a disability?

Here are some considerations to bear in mind;
●Avoid making them use stairs. They always find them inconveniencing.
●Ensure provisions such as a wheelchair, crunches are always nearby so that they can support themselves.
●If you can, have someone reliable who is often on stand-by to attend to their respective needs

eoluka@ug.nationmedia.com

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