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Know Your Rights: Adapting a home for an older person or person with a disability

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Q. I need to make some adaptions to my house as I am getting older and my mobility is not as good as it used to be. My spouse has a disability. How can I go about making the house more accessible and are there any financial supports to carry out this work?

A. Some common alterations that can help make your home more suitable for someone with a disability or limited mobility include:

* Widening doorways and passageways
* Moving light switches, door handles, doorbells and entry phones to convenient heights
* Installing grab rails for support
* Adapting bathroom facilities (for example, removing a bath and installing a level access shower)
* Moving bathroom or bedroom facilities to the ground floor
* Installing ramps to avoid using steps
* Ensuring that external approaches such as paths or drives have a firm, level surface
* Installing a stair-lift or through-floor lift
* Getting specialised furniture, like an adjustable bed or high-support chairs
* Installing alert devices for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing

Before making changes to your home you should consult an occupational therapist (OT) who will assess your daily living needs and advise on adaptations to your home. You can contact an OT through the community care section of your Local Health Office. Alternatively, you may want to hire an OT privately, as there can be a waiting list for the public OT service. The Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland (AOTI) maintains a list of OTs in private practice, and if you get a grant for the adaptations you may be able to get back some of the costs of hiring the OT.
Other health professionals, such as public health nurses and physiotherapists, can also advise you on specialised equipment and home adaptations, based on both your short-term and long-term needs.

A Healthy Age Friendly Homes Coordinator can also provide information and advice on living independently, adapting your home or moving to a new home that is more suitable to your needs. Kerry County Council is one of the local authorities which is piloting this initiative.

If you need to add a structure or an extra room, you may need to apply for planning permission. Adapting your home may be expensive, particularly if structural change is involved. There are several ways to reduce the financial burden:

• You may be eligible for a means-tested Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability. The maximum grant is €30,000.
• For smaller alterations, such as grab rails, exterior handrails or a stair-lift, the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme (also means-tested) provides a maximum grant of €6,000.
• The means tested Housing Aid for Older Persons Scheme is used to improve the condition of an older person's home. The type of work that is covered depends on your local authority and may include structural repairs, re-wiring and upgrades to heating systems. For information on what is covered in your area, contact Kerry County Council
• You may qualify for a local authority home improvement loan to improve, repair or extend your home.
• If you have a medical card or a long-term illness card, you may be entitled to get essential items of equipment free of charge. First, you must be assessed by a relevant professional, such as an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist.
• If you are paying for equipment needed for someone with a disability, you may be able to claim a VAT refund.
• Depending on the work being done, you may be eligible for the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme or the Better Energy Homes Scheme.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Citizens Information Kerry which provides a free and confidential service to the public.

If you need further information about any of the issues raised here or you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in Kerry on 0761 07 7860. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you.

The offices are staffed from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. Alternatively you can email on tralee@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie for further information.

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“I’m not fit enough”

How many of you have said or thought “I’m not fit enough” or even heard others say it? Quite frankly it grinds my gears. That mentality is going to hold you back. Change your “I’m not fit enough” to “I will get fit”. Break free from this limiting belief If you think you are not […]

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How many of you have said or thought “I’m not fit enough” or even heard others say it?

Quite frankly it grinds my gears. That mentality is going to hold you back. Change your “I’m not fit enough” to “I will get fit”.

Break free from this limiting belief
If you think you are not fit enough then you never will be, and let’s face it, you’ll never know if you’re fit enough to do something unless you do it! You can achieve so much, much more if you have the right mindset, and that this is a mental hurdle to overcome, not a physical one.
Everyone must start somewhere, and that can be as simple as aiming to sit a little less and move a bit more.
More gentle exercises that don’t require too much skill such as walking, and housework can help start you off slowly and build up gradually. You will still be making progress, physically and mentally, and will enjoy it more. A common mistake is trying to achieve too much, too soon. If exercising feels too hard, you will be put off.

Visualise success
Visualisation is an athletic tool that has been used for decades. By closing your eyes and imagining what it would look and feel like to achieve a goal or to complete an exercise, we can prepare ourselves physically and psychologically for the task at hand.

Certified fitness instructors add to the cost of your workout, but they can also add a lot of value. An expert can design a program based on your goals, show you how to use equipment, and provide tips on nutrition.

Log your workouts by recording distances, weights, and other objective milestones in your fitness journey, you will be able to see progress on paper. That record can come in handy when you are feeling uninspired or lethargic

Don’t over-promise. Having goals, even lofty ones, is key to anything you want to achieve in life. Make sure the bar is reachable—even if it means aiming for just 15 minutes on a bike—so you are not overwhelmed. Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins along the way!

Research on the placebo effect has focused on the relationship of mind and body. One of the most common theories is that the placebo effect is due to a person’s expectations. If a person expects a pill to do something, then it is possible that the body’s own chemistry can cause effects similar to what a medication might have caused.

For instance, in one study, people were given a placebo and told it was a stimulant. After taking the pill, their pulse rate sped up, their blood pressure increased, and their reaction speeds improved. When people were given the same pill and told it was to help them get to sleep, they experienced the opposite effects.

Meaning when you believe something, it can and will happen. That is the power of strong mentality.
If you keep thinking you are “not fit enough” then you will believe it, but if you start to change your way of thinking and change your mindset to “get fit”, you have made a huge step in the right direction. Take small steps to start new habits no matter how small they may be, and you will start to see some remarkable results.
If you would like help with any of your health and fitness goals please contact us at www.activate.ie

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Lack of street lights a concern

By Sean Moriarty Two roads in the wider Killarney area will not get any additional street lighting despite requests to install them by Cllr. John O’Donoghue. Mr O’Donoghue called on the council place extra lighting on the Muckross Road near the old Whitegates Hotel. “The area is considerably darker now and is presenting a serious danger […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Two roads in the wider Killarney area will not get any additional street lighting despite requests to install them by Cllr. John O’Donoghue.

Mr O’Donoghue called on the council place extra lighting on the Muckross Road near the old Whitegates Hotel.

“The area is considerably darker now and is presenting a serious danger to pedestrians crossing the road, particularly between Woodlawn Cross, and what was formerly the Whitegates Hotel,” he told a recent meeting of Killarney Municipal District.
The council said that the area was subject to a recent upgrade and that additional lighting would not be installed along this section of road on top of the 19 LED lights already placed there.”
“The lighting was installed, commissioned, light levels checked and provides adequate illumination to meet the relevant lighting design standards,” a council spokesperson told the meeting.
Mr O’Donoghue also called for a new street light to be placed on the junction where the L.3015 meets the slip road by Glenflesk National School: “to facilitate the safe passage of school children walking home during the Winter months.”
Kerry County Council reviewed the request but said: “This proposal would not comply with Kerry County Council’s Public Lighting Policy.”

COMMENT BY KILLARNEY ADVERTISER

While this Killarney Municipal District meeting took place hours before the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy in Tullamore, it drives home the importance that all our citizens are entitled to feel safe in their locality. The addition of a few extra street lights in the areas mentioned is not too much to ask.

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