The great space debate

All we seem to hear about these days is how a growing number of millenials are continuing to live at home with their parents.  This is often seen as a factor of the ongoing effects of the recession, but on the other side of the table some people choose to live with their parents, grandparents, children or other relatives as their primary caregivers.  In New Zealand at least, a number of people choose to make a commitment to support and care for family members who may experience a range of disabilities.

With this in mind, what practical steps do caregivers need to consider when creating a space for a relative who may have limited functioning or mobility?

1. Pay attention to small details

As a starting point, it is important to recognise the importance of small details and how they impact on the lives of those who experience limited functioning. Take the decision between fitting curtain rails or blinds in the living room, for example.  This may seem like a peripheral consideration that has little relevance to safety or well-being.  However the cumbersome nature of curtains means that they are often difficult to manage, as they require physical effort to close and open on a daily basis. Whereas blinds can be operated with a minimum of effort at any time of the day.

2. Focus your efforts on downstairs

 Unless you ago to the expense of installing a motorised stair-lift, it may be better to focus on creating a living space downstairs only, so that those with limited functioning can live freely without the need to regularly negate stairways. Simply by installing a downstairs bathroom and sleeping area, you can effectively create a bungalow space that offers comfort, convenience and peace of mind.

3. Create a layout that optimises independence

It is important of course not to be dictatorial or overbearing in the life of the person who you are providing care for.  It is therefore important to create a functional living environment that affords them independence, so that they complete tasks without being forced to over-exert themselves or place themselves at risk.  I am sure they will thank you for it!

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