While not all granny flats are intended for use by elderly relatives, as the name suggests, a good many of them are. Granny flats afford your loved ones the opportunity to enjoy freedom and privacy, while also keeping help for them close at hand.
If you have bought, built or plan to build one of these secondary dwellings on your property for an older relative, there are a few accessibility issues you’ll need to consider. After all, every demographic comes with its own set of demands and preferences, and making the people you care about feel at home in this space is one of the most powerful ways you can show you want the best for them.
With this in mind, here’s how you can make your granny flat more accessible.
Ramp it Up!
Whether your loved one is in a wheelchair or uses a cane or walker, a ramp is one of the best ways to ensure they can move in and out of their flat safely. Stairs can pose a problem for many elderly people, and a fall can be incredibly dangerous — even deadly. Even if your family member does not need a ramp now, it is prudent to install one anyway for down the road.
Many of our senses deteriorate with age, so think about fitting your granny flat with alternative sensory cues. Ideas include door lights instead of (or in addition to) a doorbell for hearing impaired residents, and tactile ground surface indicators to help visually impaired loved ones anticipate the approach of a doorway, ramp, path or driveway. These simple strategies can give you peace of mind, and make life a lot easier for your loved one.
Pro-tip: Avoid furnishing the flat with rugs, with can cause trips and falls. Instead opt for hardwood flooring or wall-to-wall carpets.
Install grab bars and handles in the bathroom to help your relative use the facilities safely. One by the toilet is great, and one in the shower is non-negotiable. Showers and bathtubs are notorious danger zone, and slips are more common here than anywhere else in the house. A grab bar can go a long way to help someone get into and out of the bath or shower unscathed.
Also, make sure the bottom of the bath or shower is not slippery. This can be done with a bathmat, or by buying a tub or stall with a non-slip finish.
These three simple strategies will make life safer and easier for your elderly relative. If you’ve taken the time and made the effort to buy a home with a secondary dwelling or build a granny flat on your own property, making these adjustments for ultimate accessibility are relatively fast and affordable ways to ensure everyone is happy and healthy.