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Advice for independent Living

By Dr Jocelyn Lowinger

Most people want to live as independently as they can, for as long as they can, but many often need some help to do so.  Below is a short guide to the types of help that are available to assist people live independently.1

 

Help at home

Things that can help people stay living independently include help with daily tasks and basic care, including:1

  • Home maintenance
  • Cleaning, washing and ironing
  • Preparing and/or delivering meals
  • Providing aids and equipment
  • Home modifications
  • Transport to shopping and appointments
  • Help dressing and basic nursing care
  • Social support and activities.

 

Assistive Technology

Assistance can often be provided to help with these tasks through Assistive Technology, any device or system that can help you perform a task that you would not otherwise be able to perform.

 

It includes things such as providing aids and equipment to help you get around safely or make modifications to your home such as installing handrails, as well as specialised computers to help with communication, or installing emergency call systems in case of falls.2

 

Specialised household equipment available includes:3

  • Cutlery handgrips
  • Slip-resistant plates
  • Phones for speech or hearing difficulties.

 

Specialised computer equipment and software includes:4

  • Voice recognition and screen magnification software
  • Software to assist mouse control
  • High contrast keyboards.  

 

See Independent Living Centre Australia for more computer assistance and household equipment options. Some types of assistive technology will need to meet Australian Standards to ensure safety and quality.5

 

Home modifications

Small changes to your home can make it safer to live independently. An occupational therapist or physiotherapist can advise about equipment and furniture that can make living independently at home easier and safer.6

 

Changes that can be made to help prevent falls include:6,7

  • Installing handrails in the shower and bath, near the toilet and near stairs
  • Installing slip-resistant flooring in the bathroom
  • Fitting anti-scald devices to hot water pipes
  • Applying glow-in-the-dark products near door handles and light switches
  • Repairing cracked or uneven paths

 

Getting help

These types of help to enhance independent living can be accessed through the Australian Government Home and Community Care (HACC) program and the Home Care Packages. The government’s My Aged Care site has further information about help that is available, including eligibility criteria.

 

Independent Living Centres Australia provides independent and unbiased advice to Government and policy-makers regarding Assistive Technology and its use in the community.  For information on assistive technology visit http://ilcaustralia.org.au or call the ILC Infoline on 1300 885 886. Contact your State and Territory Centre for information, advice and equipment trials.

 

Jocelyn is a doctor and professional health and medical writer with 20 years’ experience in the health industry. She has extensive experience in a range of approaches to improving the delivery of healthcare such as clinical governance, quality use of medicines, and developing high-quality health communications for consumers and health professionals.

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