Browsing Tag

adapting a house for an elderly person

Calculate BTU or how to choose the right size radiator.

November 1, 2017

How do you calculate the correct size of radiator for each room?

Getting the right size radiator for your room will save money and also help you keep an even temperature in your home. The rule of thumb seems to be to install radiators that are just a bit more powerful than your calculation so that when you install the valves you can turn the heat down – under powered radiators only means you will have the valves open full but the room will never be warm enough.

Calculate BTU

The number you need to calculate is the BTU. British Thermal Unit.

This is a calculation of how much heat you need to heat 1 pound of water by 1 degree farenheight. There are a few explanations of this, just check out wikipedia to start, but really all you need to know is calculate the BTU number using a calculator like the one below and that’s the number you quote when you order your radiators.

Radiator Size Calculator

Grab your tape measure and start filling in the form for an easy calculation

Need new radiators? Visit BestHeating and browse their extensive range of radiators now.

Electronic surveillance systems. Are you spying on your parents or just keeping an eye out for them?

June 12, 2017
Panasonic, iPhone apps, Canary, Jola Piesakowska, Buildmumahouse

A friend’s mum fell in her garden and couldn’t get up, she lay there for hours before anyone knew of her situation.

A workman cleaning a 95 year old’s gutters asked for a glass of water, followed my relative to the kitchen. His accomplice ran upstairs and ransacked the bedrooms.

A family friend collapsed in the shower and couldn’t call for help, her newly renovated home was flooded and ruined. She had to move out.

Very real and frightening stories for anyone who has a relative who wants to stay living independently, at home. And you have a full time job. And you don’t live with your parents.

How can we keep an eye out for someone without being there? How can elderly people keep their independence safe in the knowledge that if something happens their carers can be alerted? I have recently been thinking about this.

Do you remember those baby monitors that you could buy in Mothercare to listen to your baby asleep upstairs? Battery powered, with walkie talkie aerials (and just as crackly). In the 90’s they were the height of techno sophistication, showed off at family gatherings, placed pride of place on the dining table. We would all be suddenly shushed during the meal because sister-in-law thought she had heard a gurgle on the airwaves.

Playskool 1987 baby monitor

We’ve grown up, our kids have grown up and now we’re considering parent monitoring.

In the USA there are service providers of round the clock interactive telecaregiver monitoring

At its offices in Lafayette, Ind., telecaregiver Cady sits before two large computer screens. On one, you can see the Fitzgeralds in Savannah, eating their dinner as Cady chats with them.

There are also thumbnail video images of two-dozen other homes, which Cady will check in with over the course of her shift. If one client signals for help, that image pops up larger. Children of her clients can log into the same video Cady watches and monitor their parents themselves.

Telecaregiver can remind people to take their medication at a certain time. They can alert a relative if someone appears confused or in distress. They can help with the simple tasks of daily life, like the time a client was about to sit down to breakfast.

The telecaregiver zoomed in on the frying pan and said, ‘Maybe you ought to cook the sausage and the eggs a little longer. The eggs look kind of runny and the sausage is pink,’

Fast forward to the High Street of 2017.

I popped into Maplins last weekend and on display there’s so much more than baby monitoring. Just as we had easy-to-use baby monitors, the high street shops are offering home DIY video and sensor monitoring for your home and pets. The new generation home monitoring systems don’t rely on a specialized installer or a contract monitoring alarm system. This is plug and play. Easy to set up technology with audio and video capability is now available at a realistic price.

Home monitoring systems are being sold as a way of protecting your property, keeping an eye on the postman, capturing burglars, seeing what your pets get up to during the day. They are triggered by motion sensors and can even be used to turn on lights or even your heating.

There’s now a vast array of home monitoring systems, linking high definition indoor and outdoor cameras to you mobile phone, computer or tablet. With or without an app. Via wifi or dect. Wired or wireless. Day and night vision.

Video and audio monitoring is now standard, a siren can be activated remotely from your device and some allow a two way conversation between you remotely and the subject of the camera.

Huffington Post summed up how these diy home monitoring systems can be used as  parent monitors keeping tabs on an elderly parent …”

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-t-miller/how-to-keep-tabs-on-an-el_b_8954044.html

…if your mom didn’t pick up her pillbox to get her medicine or didn’t open the refrigerator door to make breakfast like she usually does, or if she left the house at a peculiar time you would be notified and could check on her. You can also check up on her anytime you want online or through a mobile app…

Looking at the range on display on the High Street what caught my eye is the Panasonic Home Safety range of monitors. Right there in Streatham High Road was everything for carers to keep an eye on parents and allow them to stay living independently at home.

The Panasonic Home Monitoring Display in my High Street

Panasonic Home safety range, like many others on the market has a monitor for windows and doors that alerts you when they are opened or closed. You can use this to check on your parents’ daily routine without feeling that you are invading their privacy. Or you can monitor their house for burglars. All from your smartphone.

There are indoor or outdoor monitors that not only transmit video images and audio to you but this range will allow you to speak to the person in the room or at the outside door that you are monitoring. Panasonic videos suggest you use this feature to tell the postman to deliver your parcel to the neighbours when you are out. With an elderly parent you can install this feature to keep an eye on whose at the front door and what they are up to.

Watch your Pets from Work

There are motion detectors that switch on lights when activated, this doesn’t need selling hard as everyone can do with lights coming on automatically to light the stairs or the path to the bathroom at night.

But for me the key differentiator is the water monitor. This is such a great idea for passively keeping an eye on someone’s home where there is the potential of a flooding risk, perhaps someone with early onset dementia symptoms, or prone to forgetfulness when running a bath or sink or shower. Catching a bathroom flood can save damage to a home or could indicate a fall or someone who has been taken unwell in the shower room. It allows you to act in time.

 

Using home monitoring systems as a parent monitor will transform how we can remotely care for an elderly or unwell person. As the carer you could feel that you have set up a care plan that involves you, is relatively low cost and gives 24 hour coverage.

I haven’t actually tested this system, so I can’t comment on how effective any of this is. None of the home monitoring systems seem to have considered the needs of caregivers in their advertising so for now its all about being creative with making these home systems work for your needs.

HOWEVER,

The video cameras are always switched on and walking around your home you can be viewed remotely, without knowing, at any time night or day.

On-line discussion forums have heated debates about how much we should intrude on parents’ privacy. Certainly all of this should be done with your parents’ consent. I’ve read discussions about carer’s personal experiences about where cameras and motion detectors have been put up. The most popular and the locations that are the least contentious seem to be

  • Rogue callers: by the front door pointing to the opening with a clear view to check on callers
  • To check on falls: low level motion activated cameras in the living spaces, the bedroom or bathroom. Motion activated lighting: to turn lights on to prevent falls in low light- walk past a motion sensor and a light is switched on. Monitoring the garden, looking out of a window to check on falls outdoors in the garden as well as keeping an eye on security.
  • Flooding: Water monitors placed in the bathroom by the bath or shower.

 

5 Points to Consider

 

  1. You need to have wi-fi up and running. Some systems use wifi to relay the data you will have to consider putting your parent on a wi-fi plan if they don’t have one already. This may be a cost that you will need to cover.
  2. Always update to the latest firmware and change the password. “This is to announce that firmware has updated for improvement of the cybersecurity vulnerability. To provide the highest levels of security, we recommend you to upgrade the firmware for your products.”
  3. Respect your parent’s privacy and think and a discussion about where you will position cameras. Alternatively there are some very good systems that only rely on motion sensors and give you a feel for changes to a routine.
  4. Storage. Check out costs of storing the footage. Some systems use a cloud storage for the video and charge for the service, some systems have a memory card in the hub and there will be no extra costs.
  5. Plan and agree on network of people who can help when you need to raise the alarm.

 

But is this amount of monitoring, snooping on your parents, is this an invasion of their privacy? What do you think?

An amazing spa bathroom for any age

June 7, 2017
Jola Piesakowska Buildmumahouse bathroom sink ageproof bathroom

I was at a location house a few weeks ago, owned by interiors stylist Catherine Woram and architectural designer Michael Bains. I was captivated how beautiful the entire house was. Every room. But it was the bathrooms that did it for me – I need one of these! Each bathroom was full of beautiful, clever details all in perfect harmony. A perfect retreat from the stresses and strains of the world, your own private spa.

small moroccan bathroom

The flat whiteness of the walls and painted floor are fresh and uplifting. The huge over mantel mirror bounces light all around and by painting the ornate frame white it looks perfect over the basins. The sense of light in this room is perfect for anyone with weakened eyesight: details are crisp and defined.

Catherine Woram has used an shabby and ornate console table as a basin stand. Its fun and its chic. Complementing the shabby paintwork and wooden top is a rustic copper basin.. and a very modern chrome u bend. It looks fantastic and this basin stand is in fact ideal for anyone who needs to pull up a stool when using the sink. Wouldn’t it be perfect if an ornate basin stand like this was wheelchair friendly too!

The basin and tap styling is Moroccan French rustic chateau meets modern, sleek chrome. These levered taps are easy to use for anyone with reduced mobility, the narrow console table/basin stand also means that you wouldn’t need to stretch forward to reach them. This is exactly what Build Mum a House is all about. You shouldn’t need to compromise the look of your home for ease of use.

TAPS AND MIXER

White floor boards, pale flat greys shades, chandeliers, copper basins. I took some photos on my phone to try and capture the magic… and then as I turned to leave the room I noticed the bathroom door lock. Absolutely beautiful, inspired, on theme AND completely up my street.

In 1970 I was 8. I got stuck in a Hayling Island beach car park toilet. As I had gone to leave, the catch on the big brass mechanism was so fiddly, the old penny dropped down inside the brass mechanism.  I was left behind in the locked cubicle. I wailed. Finally, a very kind lady heard me and put another penny in the lock. Released, I ungraciously ran out, humiliated, in tears, to join my sister who had already got back into our parents’ car!

That’s why I like a nice and easy privacy lock on a bathroom door.

It’s not about lack of mobility and everything with being a bit clumsy. I am not alone on this one. I know I’m not.

And do you know what this bathroom features as a door lock? It’s light and easy to use, large handle that is good for a weak grip and very pretty. The lock on the door is a Moroccan Aldrop and latch. No, I didn’t know they were called that either. This is a very nice decorated version of a metal sliding bolt, that you can see when you wander round the souks and admire the ancient Moorish buildings and their intricate front doors.

bathroom lock

Buildmumahouse is all about finding chic interiors that are perfect for age proof living, for aging at home, for anyone with mobility issues, young or old. This beautiful bathroom is perfect, it’s a visual feast and it addresses many practical issues. Proof that a beautiful interior can be ageproof.

If you would like to see more of my photos fof inspirational interiors then follow me and go to my Buildmumahouse Instagram account, click here  And for more well designed and easy to use bathroom locks go to my bathroom Pinterest boards at Buildmumahouse.

 

 

 

 

 

Buildmumahouse Guide: How to make curtains?

April 13, 2017
how to make curtains, sewing, craft, diy, curtains, buildmumahouse guide, jolapiesakowska, lifestyle

In 1981 my mum bought me a book, “Sewing” by Ann Ladbury, the Mary Berry of Sewing. This has been my bible of curtain making ever since and I am now sharing Ann’s brilliantly simple book with a few tips from me and my mum.

In my previous Buildmumahouse guide I explained how to measure up for curtains. Once you have all your measurements and you’ve got your fabric here’s how to make them up.

Making a curtain is simple, the only sewing skills that you need are cutting a straight line and sewing a straight line. Add to that using a steam iron: my top tip is press every seam as you go.

Now you’re ready, let’s go

What equipment do I need to make curtains?

IKEA BUILDMUMAHOUSE SEWING CURTAINS

IKEA sewing kit has most things you need to make curtains

  • Pair of long, sharp scissors for cutting fabric
  • Steam Iron
  • Long Pins
  • Tape measure or a metre long, wooden ruler
  • Loads of matching thread
  • Loads of basting thread in a contrasting colour
  • Seam unpicker
  • A big space to lay everything out

I prefer cutting and pinning out curtains on the floor, especially if you have fitted carpets (so the fabric doesn’t slip around) …but remove rugs before cutting the cloth! Otherwise find a big table to lay the curtains out.

Making Unlined Curtains

curtains, sewing , making curtains, how to make curtains, Ann Ladbury, BUILDMUMAHOUSE BUILD MUM A HOUSE, Jola Piesakowska

C)Mitchell Beazley 1976        MAKING UNLINED CURTAINS STEPS 1,2,3

  1. Measure your window following instructions here and cut your fabric to size. Fold in a double hem 1.25cm down each side, press into a crisp fold and baste or pin into place. Machine stitch the edges down but hand sew velvets and satins. Measure and double fold up the bottom hem. Press and pin in place, stitch by hand or machine.
  2. For a crisp look on soft fabrics, stiffen the top of the curtains with iron- on interfacing. Cut a strip 1,25cm narrower than your top hem and don’t overlap the side hems. Iron the strip 1.25cm in from the raw or cut edge. If  you are not gathering the curtain using heading tape, turn down the raw edge 1.25 cm over it and then turn down the top hem, press with the steam iron and pin or baste in place. If you are using heading tape for the gatehring then cut the interface the same depth as the top hem and iron in place it along fabric edge.
  3. Stitch the top hem by machine. If the heading of the curtain is not to be gathered so that you can show off the fabric design  sew hooks or rings to the top edge.

Choosing the right heading tape

c) Mitchell Beazley 1976 CHOOSING A CURTAIN HEADING

I can’t better Ann Ladbury’s instructions but my top tips are

Don’t knot the loose cords at the end of the curtain use a Ruflette Cord Tidy. If you take your curtains down to dry clean them, or wash them you will need to undo the cords and flatten out the curtains. Untying the knotted cords is a real pain.

how to make curtains, buildmumahouse, rufflette cord tidy, lifestyle , curtains, diy

Just remember to position the loose cords at the outside edge of each curtain.

Click here for a guide to width allowances for the different heading tapes and always double check with the sales person.

How to Make Lined Curtains

There are a lot of different weights for curtain lining, the heavy blackout lining is almost rubbery on one side and its also good with draughty windows. Because the blackout linings are bulky I always make them as a detachable lining, really handy when you take large curtains to the dry cleaners, see below. For a really simple explanation of how to make up a curtain just look through figures 1, 2, and 3. It’s all there…

sewing ann ladbury, sewing book, buildmumahouse, build mum a house, how to make curtains, lifstyle, forever home

c) Mitchel Beazley 1976   Anne Ladbury Sewing   HOW TO MAKE LINED CURTAINS

John Lewis in Kingston, London is the best department store for all things curtains an lots of valuable advice, Oxford Street used to be the best place for all your curtain and it’s still ok. Recently I have swopped my allegiance for Dunelm they have a really thorough haberdashery and their collection of fabrics is small but good value for money and a good selection of Orla Keiley. IKEA do a cheap range of fabrics in their Scandinavian styles and some simple haberdashery at hard to beat prices.

dunelm, buildmumahouse, how to make curtains, guide, lifestyle, diy

On my Pinterest page I have collected loads of fabric designs and curtains styles, click through to BuildMumahouse to look through and get inspired…

 

Turn the lights on with a wide rocker…!

April 5, 2017

They were all the rage in the 1970’s and have proved to be spot on after your 70’s. I’m talking wide rockers, wide light switch rockers.

I installed MK Logic Plus wide rocker switches in my mum’s house and they have proved to be a delight for her to use. Easy on her arthritis…and as they are MK they have an light, smooth but positive switch action. Last year they went in at number 7  in  my Top 10 items in a forever home.

BUT I just didn’t realise how much of crush I had developed on my mum’s light switches over the last year…

…until my son moved into a 1970’s built flat.

I went all swoonie over his light switches. Super wide rockers, the type that you can switch on with the palm of your hand, almost as big as a polaroid picture. Needless to say I went home and by midnight had located them on Ebay.

 

Tenby Clipper switches as found on Ebay

Tenby Clipper wide rockers as seen on Ebay

They’re big, bright and easy to use and the rocker has a nice tactile texture on the surface….great when you’re trying to find the light switch in the dark.

Then the text arrived that changed all of that.

Sleek and Chic JUNG Switch Classic LS 990

jung, buildmumahouse, light switches

C) Jung Maanufaktur

My son did a bit of a dig around and found these: Jung wider rocker switches, sleek, tactile and in a massive range of colours.

Jung wide rocker

He’s using primary colours in his new flat and has chosen these Le Corbusier colour palette JUNG – totally unique.

The light switch is called the JUNG Switch Classic LS 990 and it comes in the 63 original Les Couleurs® Le Corbusier. I’m going to have to do a separate post on Corbusier colours so watch this space, but in the meantime what is so special about his colour system is that each of the 63 colours that JUNG Classic LS 990 switches come in can be combined with any other in Corbusier’s colour system.

JUNG Switch Classic LS 990 Corbusier Colours

This is so fantastic for anyone at any age – it opens up so many design possibilities and a lot of fun as Corbusier JUNG light switches also match the KEIM colour palette. KEIM paints are totally natural, water-borne, liquid silicate paints with an extremely durable, colourfast, sustainable protective finish environmentally friendly and formulated to ensure a longlife, colourfast, protective finish with low maintenance.

Keim colour palettes, colour, buildmumahouse, paint, corbusier

Keim colour palettes

Lightness coefficients: When colour provides safe navigation.

When it comes to accessibility, the colour concept should also take into account that some people may have restricted vision and perception of colour. By using high-contrast colours of different saturation and lightness levels may help to improve navigation and perception of space.

According to the DIN 32975 Standard for “designing of visual information in the public area for accessible use”, particular contrast values have to be taken into account. To calculate them and to select the desired colour combination, the lightness coefficients of the respective shades are required.

This means that you can pick a light switch colour that will give you a visual contrast between switch and background making navigation within the room easier: perfect for making your home ageproof or providing accessibility but fitting in with your personal style.

But what I love about these switches is that they feel like a quality product when you use them, the screws are obscured and you have a  functional object that looks sleek and chic. The finish is a matt because these switches have been handpainted using a special process. No need to compromise on your style just so that you can build your age proof home.

JUNG Switch Classic LS 990 in Orange Clair 32081, buildmumahouse, build mum a house, corbusier, light switch, big rocker

Find more Corbusier colours and JUNG switches on Buildmumahouse Pinterest. Installation of Jung switches is a bit baffling as there are visible no screws, visit my YouTube channel for instructions  https://youtu.be/QTf2ePYa4X0.

The Walk In Shower Solution That Helps You Keep your Independence in Style.

March 26, 2017
walk in shower, buildmumahouse, jola piesakowska, bathroom aging in placeaging in place,

Where can you find a non- slip, walk in shower that can be fitted quickly, in awkward spaces, without major disruption and LOOKS FANTASTIC? Have a look at the Fiora Elax shower trays that will surprise you as they aren’t actually a tray as we know it!

I recently discovered this Spanish shower room manufacturer – Fiora. I love their modern classic styling and high quality production and their company goal that sums up everything I look for in a bathroom product

“all our work must not lose sight of its main goal, which is that its use must improve the everyday life of people”

and I think that they follow through their belief that their range of bathroom products are designed to offer

“…multiple and diverse solutions.”

That’s exactly what I’m looking for in a walk in shower, good design, style, high quality and a product that is age proof and can be suitable for anyone with reduced mobility.

The Fiora Elax range looks fantastic, the styling is high end and very urban. It’s a shame that the catalogues emphasis glass walls and are focused only on the able bodied, there’s no reference to the installation of a shower seat or that they actually do cater for the needs of aging or arthritic joints.

It’s Not a Walk In Shower Tray – it’s a Mat!

I think that the Fiora Elax walk-in shower system is a solution worth considering for anyone looking for a shower tray that is non-slip, has a ‘give’ underfoot, warm to touch, and soft to stand on.

 

Bathroom, walk in shower, jola piesakowska, jolapiesakowska, walkin shower, walk in shower, bathroom trends, age in place, adapting a bathroom

copyright Fiora Elax

 

The shower tray is made of a flexible material that has a “give” making standing less tiring and it is warm to the touch – ideal for arthritic feet

 

 

 

 

bathroom makeover, walk in shower, aging in place, shower, adapting bathroom

Copyright Fiora Elax

 

 

The surface is rated at group 2 non-slip which means that it is a surface that is non-profiled (sleek) and has an even surface with a gritty texture.

 

Copyright Fiora Elax

 

 

 

and all of this is made possible because this tray arrives as a rolled up mat!

 

 

The shower tray mat comes in a range of tasteful colours which can be selected to contrast or blend in with the bathroom floor. Because this tray can be fitted level with the floor, which helps mobility issues, you can combine texture, warmth and a contrasting colour to help users with impaired vision.

 

The Perfect Solution for an En Suite Walk In Shower.

One of the problems about installing a walk in shower as an en suite without tearing the whole house apart, is that the shower needs to fit in with what space already exists. This is often a very big issue when you are installing a shower for someone who doesn’t want their home disrupted, and who isn’t feeling up to be part of a major building project.

This shower tray can fit practically anywhere. The material can be easily cut to size and shape using a knife. If you are planning to fit a shower seat you still need to look for a suitable wall to attach it to… but Fiora Elax shower tray mat can be cut and trimmed to size and shape that’s how it can fit most places.

bathroom renovation, age in place ensuite shower solution, jola Piesakowska, jolapiesakowska, buildmumahouse, build mum a house, Fiora Elax

Copyright Fiora Elax

Easy Access Shower Replacing a Bath?

It’s worth mentioning at this point that Fiora also make a range of matching and complimentary wall panels that take out some of the headache of ripping out the bath and installing a walk in shower.

Remove the old bath. Position the panels horizontally to cover the area where the untiled walls from behind the bath are exposed. Fit the shower drainage system and and lay the Fiora Elax mat to cover the footprint of the old bath.

Horizontal PANELS replacing a bath with an easy access shower

The Fiora Elax shower tray mat works like any other walk in shower tray, there are a range of stainless steel drainage grates and there are a lot of installation guides on their website. For more looks from Fiora have a look at my Instagram page buildmumahouse.

I would love to hear your comments, tips or your experiences of installing walk in showers, its such a popular thing to do these days and there are loads of people looking to share their experiences, do post them here on the Buildmumahouse blog.