Children of aging parents or relatives of elderly people are often faced with the difficult decision to have their loved ones come live with them permanently due to financial reasons, illness or the parent’s inability to live on their own. When this occurs, it’s up to home owners to ensure that their home is ready for their parent or family members to live with them, which includes being a safe environment for them to reside in. This is sometimes referred to as “Elder Proofing” and it is not unlike preparing for a small child to be part of the family home, but with much more respect demonstrated to the parent so that he or she doesn’t feel undignified during this transition. Here are some areas to focus on when getting your home ready for your aging parent or an elderly loved one.
Stairways and steps. When considering having an aging parent come live in your home, one very important thing to think about is how well he or she can walk up steps or stairs to access the main living areas of your home. If your parent has trouble walking unassisted or getting up and down stairs, you may need to make modifications to make it easier for them to accomplish this. An easy way to do this with exterior steps is to build or install a set of handrails that they can use to pull or steady their progress as they climb or descend the steps. If they are using a wheelchair or walker, then a ramp may work better for them. A simple yet sturdy ramp can be installed over the existing steps. Inside, stairs generally include a handrail, but steep stairs will be nearly impossible for them to climb, so it’s best to make sure your parent can access the main level of your home, including their new bedroom without having to climb stairs.
Lighting. One of the worst safety hazards for an elderly parent is not being able to see well which can result in tripping over household items, falling or other injuries. All rooms can be equipped with overhead lighting that can be turned on and off with wall switches. If this is not possible, then you can always consider installing a sound or motion activated system to help avoid any middle of the night accidents. Having proper lighting in your home is a good idea for all family members and it prevents your parent from not being able to see well enough to enjoy their normal daily activities.
Bathrooms. For many aging parents, bathrooms can be a place of anxiety. This is because so many accidents and falls can occur in the bathroom. You can get your bathroom ready for your parent’s stay by making sure all bathroom fixtures are securely installed, including towel racks, toilet commodes and vanities. There are also many products available for bathrooms to make it easier for your parent to use them, such as high rise toilet seats with handles to prevent slipping off the toilet seat. Showers and walls can become safer with secure grip handles installed to give an extra place to hang on. All tubs and showers and bathroom floors can include non-slip rubber backed mats. Make your parent feel at home with a special rack just for their robe, toiletries and other personal items within an arms reach whenever they need to use the bathroom.
By taking the time to prepare your home for the arrival of an aging parent or elderly family member, you will ensure a safe environment for them to live in and spare them the embarrassment of any potential accidents at the same time.