Typically, senior parents find it harder to move around and perform day-to-day tasks. If you’re thinking of creating a living space for your senior parent, consider making their lives easier by making everything accessible to them.
Chances are you’re bringing them into your home. If so, try to make them feel at home as much as possible so they can have a sense of belonging. It may be overwhelming to create a safe living space for a senior parent, considering all the things you have to move around. However, with the right insight, it may become easier.
Here’s a list of ways to create senior-friendly living arrangements:
1. Rearrange Furniture To Allow Easy Mobility
Your senior parent may be in a wheelchair, using a walker, or generally finding it hard to move from one place to the next. You can try and create as much room as possible in your home. This can be achieved by moving couches close to the wall and getting rid of clutter.
Get rid of everything that may be a hazard including small mats and rugs. They might cause seniors to slip and fall. If you have slippery floors, consider putting carpet over them or getting non-slippery tiles.
2. Make Everything Easily Accessible
If you have a multiple-story house, consider creating a bedroom space downstairs for your elderly parent. Moving around may be difficult for them, let alone climbing stairs. This also goes for bathrooms and toilets. If you can incorporate that in their room, that would be excellent. But if not, try to make sure the bathroom and bedroom are on the same floor.
Consider a wheelchair-friendly home if your parent is using a wheelchair. If they still have to go upstairs, you can replace stairs with ramps or install a stairlift. If it’s within your means, consider installing an elevator. Stairs do not only limit mobility to senior parents in wheelchairs, but those finding it hard to move around for different reasons like pain, strokes, and disability.
On average, turning your house into a wheelchair-friendly one may cost you anything between USD$851 to USD$8,456 or even more, depending on the kind of upgrade you want. You may also need to remove doorknobs, and place handrails in key areas.
Also, make kitchen appliances easily accessible. You may have to put essential day-to-day meals, snacks, and appliances within reach. This includes cereals, bread, butter, cutlery, microwave, or whatever you might see fit depending on what your senior parent usually needs to access.
3. Create Elder-Proof Bathrooms
Bathrooms have been known to be the most dangerous place in the house for an elderly. They are not only wet and slippery, but they are full of hard surfaces too. If anyone slips and falls in a tub, they can get broken bones in wrists or arms, head and neck injuries, back injuries, and in severe cases, traumatic brain injuries.
If you’re preparing living arrangements for your senior parent, consider making the bathroom elder-proof by including the following:
• A walk in tub
• Benches or fold-down seats in showers
• Adequate lighting
• Hand-held adjustable shower heads
• Non-skid bath mats or non-slip strips to prevent slipping and falling
• Grab bars next to toilets and in showers
When it comes to grab bars, try to make sure they are installed with brackets and can support up to 300 pounds of weight.
4. Get The Right Assistance
As your parents get older, they will progressively need more help to get around and perform tasks daily. They may even need medical assistance too. The best medical alert systems would be a good option for this. However, consider their current health to determine what kind of help they’ll need daily. They may still be in good shape in which case, they will require very little help. You might even opt to do this yourself.
If they are not in very good health, they might need professional help from occupational therapists, nurses, or nurse aides, like those from Promontoryhomehealth.com. An in-home caregiver may cost around USD$15 to USD$25 hourly, depending on your location and type of help needed.
You may also consider adult daycare. Make sure you discuss this with your parent and let them know it’s not what it sounds like because they might resist at first. Adult daycare offers daytime social settings, meals, activities, and care for the elderly.
Social settings are recommended for the elderly as they prevent them from feeling lonely and neglected. Assuming you work all day or you arrange a living arrangement for them separate from your home, they will need to maintain a healthy level of social interaction for their mental and emotional wellbeing.
You may be fortunate to have family and friends willing to offer financial or physical help for your senior parent daily. In any case, decide the help needed by your senior parent for their daily upkeep, depending on their health, and weigh your options.
5. Ensure All Entryways Are Safe
Make sure your entryways are safe for your senior parent by eliminating steps. Steps can be a challenge to an elderly in wheelchairs, using walking sticks, and those that find it hard to move around. Even if your senior parent is still relatively able to move around, you may still want to eliminate steps for safety reasons. Thinking and planning ahead is always a good idea.
If you can’t completely remove your entry steps, ask a professional to add the following features instead:
• Non-slip surfaces
• Continuous handrails on both sides
• Closed risers
• Wider depth treads
It’s important to also make sure that your driveways are level and free of potholes. Install motion sensor lights to make sure everything is well lit. if you have thick area rugs, consider replacing them for their edges usually bend upwards, which might cause a trip or fall.
Consider the amount of entry space that might be needed for your senior parent. You can do this by considering the mobility device they use. Manual wheelchairs typically require less space than electric wheelchairs and motorized scooters. If your senior parent uses a walker and can’t stand up straight, you need to measure entryways to accommodate them as well.
6. Make Room/Arrangements For Physical Activity
It’s important for your senior parent to exercise so they can maintain a level of fitness. You can consider buying foldable power wheelchairs, four-wheel walkers, and any support structure that can make it easy for your parent to work out. Try to encourage exercises that can promote strength, endurance, and balance. This may include aerobics, warm-up exercises, and strength training exercises.
7. Set-Up A Suitable Bedroom
Make sure your parent gets a healthy dose of vitamin D by ensuring their bedroom is adjacent to the sun. In order to maintain their bone health and minimize damage to their bones and muscles when they fall, older people need vitamin D. The best way to get this is via exposure to direct sunlight.
Your senior parent might not be able to move around a lot. Having a view will help them feel at ease and adjust smoothly to their new home. Make sure you also modify their bedroom for safety and remove any safety and health hazards. If you set up a television, make sure their favorite channels are available.
You can also add soothing and cool colors like off-white, mint green, and brown to promote a good mood. Colors have the power to change mood and emotions, so try to avoid creating a dull feeling from dull colors. Make magazines and novels available as well as their favorite music so they can keep themselves entertained while you’re away or at work.
Again, make sure their bedroom is on the first floor of the house to allow for safe and easy movement. Ideally, it’s good to make sure their bedroom is on the same floor as the bathroom and toilet for easy access.
Everyone needs proper lighting, what more an elderly person who might already be struggling with their eyesight. So, add proper and adequate lighting to their room. You can also install focus lights to help them find their stuff easily.
8. Get Rid Of Clutter
Neatly store everything that’s not in use. Keep their clothes neatly folded so they don’t have to go through piles of things to access what they want. You certainly don’t want your parent tripping over kids’ toys and pets or any objects idly lying on the floor. So, make sure you create a neat and trip-free environment by being minimalist.
9. Prepare For Emergencies
Life is uncertain and it’s wise to establish a plan when emergencies do happen. Consider the likelihood of the following emergencies happening where your senior parent will live:
• Inability to access medical care
Elderly people are very delicate. You want to make sure that their basic needs are met even in the most uncomfortable and unlikely situations. Ask yourself what will happen and how your parent will manage in the event that one or more of these emergencies take place.
To stay on the safe side of nature’s unpredictable events, make sure you always have the following stuff in your home or where your senior parent will live:
• Extra medications
• Non-perishable food that can last up to three days
• A flashlight and an extra set of batteries
• A first aid kit
• Masks and gloves
• Clean drinking water
It’s important to also discuss with your parent the means to get in touch with you if there’s an emergency. Whether they live with you and you’re at work or running errands, or you arrange a home for them separate from yours, they will need to be able to get in touch with you always—especially during emergencies.
10. Prepare Your Kids And/Or Spouse For Change
If your parent is moving in with you and you have a spouse and/or kids, sit down with them and discuss how they feel about it. It may be a perfect time for your kids to bond with their grandparents. Most importantly, your family needs to be on board so that your senior parent will be welcomed and supported fully.
If you have young kids, teach them to always make sure their toys are not left lying around in case their grandparent walks in the room. Discuss finances with your spouse and make sure they are okay with the changes to avoid conflict. You don’t want to bring your parent into a conflicted home because that may affect their emotional health.
Preparing your senior parent’s living arrangements takes work, planning, and dedication. With the help of this simple guide, it might be easier for you to prioritize the steps you need to take. You might even get financial or physical help from close family and friends. This will go a long way because taking care of the necessary renovations and adjustments alone can be overwhelming.