Home improvements for the elderly


Video doorbell

To us millennials, platforms like Facebook and Instagram are the bread and butter of our daily lives. But when I asked my ah ma to look at my latest post, all I got was a confused smile and an “Instant gram?” 

And that’s okay. Our parents and grandparents might not be the most tech-savvy ones around, but they’re the ones who brought us here in the first place. Now that they’ve reached their golden years, the least we can do is to make their lives easier and safer with these 9 home upgrades.


1. Video doorbells for additional security and less squinting


Video Doorbell Singapore

Image credit: Sparky Channel

If your ah ma’s already bringing her mahjong tiles as close to her eyes as possible, chances are, she’s going to have a hard time squinting through a tiny peephole.

And that’s where video doorbells like these come in. Easy to install, their night vision capabilities that can take clear pictures of anyone outside of the house any time of the day. Plus, more advanced models provide remote footage and audio for homeowners to check on their visitors at the door without getting up.

Cost: $40 – $90
Difficulty of installation: 2/5


2. New stove hobs with safety features for forgetful cooks


Timed Stove Singapore

Image credit: CR Wood

Nothing tastes quite like a pot of ah ma’s rich homemade soup. But unfortunately, cooking at home carries the risk of accidents, especially if someone forgets to turn the stove off.

We hear that City Gas has developed a new timed gas hob together with home appliance company Aerogaz, which can be pre-set up to a duration of 120 minutes. When the timer runs out, the gas supply is automatically cut off and an alarm will go off to alert the user.

The stove also comes with a flame failure device, which cuts off the gas supply if the flame gets extinguished by a strong wind or overflowing pots. This prevents gas from filling up the house if the flame ever goes out.

Cost: $529
Difficulty of installation: 4/5 (1/5 if you hire a repairman!)


3. Upgrading to Digital TV so granny can keep watching her dramas


While we’ve moved on from TV programmes to catching the latest Korean dramas on our smartphones, our grandparents still rely on good ol’ television for entertainment. Unfortunately, they might not get to watch their favourite dramas from Mediacorp’s free-to-air channels like Channel 8 or Vasantham anymore if they’re still tuned in to the analogue TV system.

Digital TV Singapore

Image credits: monkeybusinessimages

Analogue and Digital TV signals are two different ways that television channels are broadcast in Singapore. Free-to-air channels are currently transmitted in both formats, but by 31 December 2018, they’ll be broadcasted via Digital TV signals only.

So if ah ma and ah gong want to keep enjoying their favourite TV dramas, help them make the switch from Analogue to Digital TV signals before the year ends. It’s a simple process, and instructions can be found on this website.

Read on to find out more about making the switch!

Cost: Free if you redeem a DTV Starter Kit, or $29 – $129.
Difficulty of installation: 1.5/5 – the kit comes with free delivery and installation! 


4. Elderly monitoring system in case of sudden emergencies


Elderly Panic Button Singapore

Image credit: OMG Solutions

Not all of us have helpers at home, so leaving our grandparents alone at home can be a scary thought – what if something happens while you’re away? Thankfully, you can get your old folks one of these portable panic buttons that alerts you if they experience a fall or any other emergency.

This is simple for them to use – it comes with an accessible push-button to press if they find themselves in need of urgent help. This can also be worn with a lanyard, which your folks can move around with comfortably. 

Cost: $80 – $100
Difficulty of installation: 2/5


5. Robot vacuums for difficult-to-reach places…and bad backs


Nobody really likes doing chores, not even grandpa and grandma. Bending down to reach tight spots can be tough work for them – but not if they’ve got a nifty robot vacuum to help.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuuming – one job I’d gladly let a robot steal.
Image credit: TechSpot

These autonomous robotic vacuums are smart enough to navigate the entire house on their own, with sensors to avoid steps and walls. You can even programme them to keep out of certain areas, and there are models that can mop the floor as well. 

You can find them at department stores in Singapore like Robinsons, or simply order them online from websites like Lazada or EzBuy.

Cost: $450 – $1000
Difficulty of installation: 2/5


6. Door mechanisms that are easier for shakier hands and weak grips


Sliding Doors Singapore

Image credit: Homedit

Sliding doors not only look more atas, but they take less effort for our elders to use too. For places where it’s inconvenient to have a sliding door, just use a handy lever handle, which is easier to turn when compared to traditional door knobs. There are plenty of online tutorials about how to install these, and our folks wouldn’t need to exert as much strength when opening doors, like closets and bathrooms.

Cost: $150 – $400 for doors, $10 – $20 for door handles
Difficulty of installation: 3.5/5


7. Grip mats, grab bars and cable covers to ensure older folks can move around safely


Elderly Home Safety

Image adapted from (left to right): Signature Hardware, Discount Ramps, and Alibaba

If there’s anything my popo can’t do, it’s listening to me when I ask her to sit and relax instead of hobbling around the house with a feather duster in hand. Fellow sufferers of stubborn-grandparent-syndrome, you’re in luck. 

Non-slip floors, especially in places like bathrooms and kitchens, makes it safer for elderly family members to move around. If you’ve already laid down the tiling, anti-slip mats or anti-slip floor treatments are good alternatives that cost less than $30 per mat or bottle.

You can also opt for grab bars that the elderly can use to improve their stability and prevent tripping by covering exposed wires with cable covers, which cost only a few dollars per metre. All of these things can be found in various home improvement stores like Home Fix.

Cost: From $30
Difficulty of installation: 2.5/5


8. Smart toilets with bidets and dryers for hassle-free bathroom breaks


Think next level toilets and most of us would think of Japan at once, with their fancy buttons for flush-masking music and warm toilet seats – both great additions for when it takes extra time in the loo. 

Complex Japanese Toilets

Actual representation of me trying to figure out Japanese toilet features.
Image credit: Global Voices

But that doesn’t mean your folks can’t enjoy them in Singapore too. Just order one of these Bidet Toilet Seats ($169), which can be installed over your existing toilet.

Smart Toilet Singapore

Image credit: DHGate

Since no fancy electronics are involved, the seat is easy for the elderly to use. With its retractable bidets that have water jets and self-cleaning functions, the seat covers all of our folks’ cleaning needs when using the toilet, making their bathroom visits hassle-free. Plus, this is especially useful for anyone with mobility issues! 

Cost: From $169
Difficulty of installation: 3.5/5


9. Smart sockets to save on the bills


Your parents might have always chided you for wasting electricity when you were a kid. But now it’s your turn to play sheriff with these smart sockets

Smart Sockets Singapore

Image credit: HardwareZone

These wifi-connected sockets allow you to access the outlet from an app, which means you can use your phone to see if electronic applications have been left on for too long. The sockets can even be turned off remotely, or automatically deactivated after long periods of inactivity – great news for forgetful parents and grandparents!

Cost: $14 – $31
Difficulty of installation: 1.5/5


Make the switch from Analogue to Digital TV


Technology is advancing pretty quickly in sunny Singapore. But while that’s good news for us, our parents and grandparents might not be as tech-savvy. It’s up to us to help them with the little things – and yes, that goes beyond just showing them how to change their display picture on Whatsapp.

In fact, there’s already a way for us to help. Like we mentioned, all of Mediacorp’s free-to-air channels will be making the switch from Analogue to Digital TV by 31 December 2018, and it’s important we’ve got everyone covered. After all, we don’t want anyone missing out on their fave dramas. What’s more, those that make the switch by 31 August 2018 will stand a chance to win prizes like wireless speakers and a Philips 55” Android TV!

Digital TV signals are essentially an upgrade from the Analogue signals, with features such as multi-language subtitles, HD images, and better audio. Plus, if we can free up the frequency spectrum that’s used to broadcast Analogue signals in Singapore, that frequency can be used for higher quality and faster mobile services for everyone.

Singapore Digital TV

Analogue transmission logo

The only thing is, some of our older folks might not have realized that they’re still stuck on the analogue system. We can help them check simply by turning on their TV and looking out for the analogue logo on the top right corner of the screen.

If you see the analogue logo, then you’ll need an indoor antenna, or an indoor antenna and set-up box, depending on whether your TV is Digital-ready or non-Digital-ready respectively. They can be purchased from electronic stores like Courts and Gain City. Alternatively, if you stay in a HDB and meet the right criteria, you can even redeem an entire DTV Starter Kit for free from IMDA.

Digital TV Logo

If your TV has this label, it’s ready to receive digital transmissions
Image credit: Digital TV

If you’re not sure how to identify if your TV is receiving Analogue or Digital signals, or need help regarding the equipment you’ll need, click here

And hey, these home upgrades might seem as simple things to us, but you can bet that our parents and elders will be super pleased!

Find out more about switching to Digital TV here!

This post was brought to you by the Infocomm Media Development Authority and Mediacorp.

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