As people grow older they will inevitably begin to find that they are less able to manage around the house. Stairs may seem steeper, high shelves more difficult to reach, a favourite chair less easy to get in and out of and not so comfortable to sit in. For those with arthritis in their hands, drawers may be more difficult to open and kitchen utensils harder to grip. Bending down will be more of a chore.
In most cases, it is possible to adapt the furniture and fittings around the house so that they no longer present obstacles, without going to the expense of buying commercially made aids (which, in any case, rarely blend in with the decor) or replacing whole pieces of furniture. In this way, old people can retain their independence in their familiar surroundings, without advertising the fact that they are not as mobile or dexterous as they once were.
In this imaginative and practical book, more than a hundred ideas are presented for aids and adaptations that can be cheaply and quickly made by a younger member of the family or a neighbour, without any previous knowledge of carpentry. Only basic tools are used, and the techniques for joining and fixing are simple but safe. Best of all, the aids can be made to individual requirements and painted or finished to match an existing piece of furniture.
The author goes right round the house and into the garden, describing a host of ideas that will help to solve the problems of daily living. A plinth to raise kitchen units with shelves that are now too low, back or leg rests for an armchair, a loop to ease the opening of a drawer, handrails and platforms for the bathroom, a special bag to attach to a walking stick or crutch to help carry objects from room to room – all these and many more can revolutionise the lifestyle of an elderly person.
The design of the aids is the fruit of many years’ experience with disabled people, but in addition, the author stresses that medical advice should always be sought before adapting any piece of furniture, since certain conditions may require special modifications and safety measures.
Easy To Make Aids for Elderly People is published in the highly-acclaimed Human Horizons Series, written by the leading experts, and now established as the pre-eminent list for people with disabilities, the elderly and the afflicted, and those who care for them.
Don Caston acquired worldwide recognition for his work at the Handicapped Education and Aids Unit at the City of London Polytechnic.