Deleted: No one knows your parents better than you, which is why so many adult children end up welcoming their aging parents into their home. However, you can’t just move your parents in without any prep. You need to take steps to prepare your home for seniors. Here are eight things you can do to make home living safer for your elderly loved ones, from senior clothing to grab bars:
Realize that your lifestyle might have to change.
Welcoming a senior into your home may or may not require you to make some changes to your daily life. In some cases, these alterations may be slight, such as making an extra effort to keep the floors clean and getting rid of any loose floor rugs. In other cases, you might need to take significant steps to “senior proof” your home, especially if your loved one is very mobile and suffering from dementia. If you still have children living at home, you’ll need to bring them on board with the changes as well. It takes a family effort to keep a senior safe at home!
Understand your loved one’s limitations.
As mentioned in the previous step, the changes you make to your home will somewhat depend on your loved one’s limitations. For instance, if they are suffering from arthritis, then grab bars and sturdy door handles will be an absolute must. On the other hand, if they have dementia, then you will need to secure the kitchen knives out of reach and put locks on the cabinets so they can’t accidentally get into caustic chemicals. Make sure to periodically check in with your loved one to see if their condition has changed and if there are any more upgrades that you need to make to your home.
Don’t forget daily life.
Not everything that makes it easier for seniors to stay at home necessarily involves home renovations. Certain products, such as utensils with wide rubber grips, make it easier for seniors to keep participating in day-to-day activities such as eating. Both adaptive clothing for men and adaptive clothing for women can help your loved one continue dressing themselves even after they become unable to work traditional buttons and clasps. Talk to your loved one to discuss what activities are difficult for them and brainstorm some possible solutions.
Clear the floors and stairs.
Floors and hallways that were previously easy to traverse can turn into a maze of obstacles as you age. Help keep your senior safe by removing any loose rugs and extension cords that could cause them to trip. Make sure that there’s no clutter on the floor and pick up something as soon as you drop it so you don’t leave anything lying around. Grip tape or non-slip runners can make stairs safer to climb. The proper lighting is also a must, as seniors can easily stumble in a dimly lit area. Make sure you have enough lighting in every room and that light switches are easy to reach. Install nightlights that are motion-sensitive so they will turn on automatically if your senior gets up in the middle of the night. You may also need to mount stair lights if your staircase is especially dim.
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Give them a dedicated bathroom.
Given the sometimes-extensive renovations needed, many families find it easier to dedicate one bathroom to their elderly loved ones, usually the bathroom that connects to their bedroom. Walk-in showers are much safer for seniors to use than tubs, and a shower chair can also be a big help. Install grab bars in the shower as well as near the toilet, and add a rubber mat to the shower or tub to make it non-slip. A raised toilet seat sits higher than a stand one and makes it easier to use the restroom. To prevent scalds, set your water heater temperature to an upper threshold of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Upgrade the bedroom.
Bedrooms don’t require as extensive changes as the bathroom, but they do need a few tweaks. Depending on your existing bed frame, you might need to get a bed that’s higher or lower so that it hits that sweet spot that’s easiest for seniors to get into. Many elderly people also prefer a firmer mattress, which is easier to get in and out of. Getting a bed rail can make this process even easier — think of it as a grab bar that’s specifically designed to go next to a mattress. You should also make the same changes to the bedroom that you do to other areas, such as making sure that there’s enough light and keeping the floor clear.
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Review the kitchen.
The kitchen is the room where the changes will probably depend the most on your loved one’s condition. For example, if they have advanced dementia, you’ll need to put away the knives and appliances and put locks on the oven knobs so it can’t accidentally be started. If your loved one is still able to safely feed themselves, then place everything they might need at chest level so they don’t have to climb on a step stool or crouch down to retrieve it. Make sure to routinely clear out the fridge and pantry so they don’t eat expired food.
Consider automating your home.
Lights and appliances that automatically turn on and off can make things easier on your whole household and help keep your senior safe. As an example, a smart thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature and keep the house from becoming too hot or too cold, even if you’re not there to monitor it. A security system will keep not only your elderly loved one safe, but also your entire family. If your loved one is by themselves a lot, a senior medical alert system may be worth looking into.
Keep your aging parents safe at home with you with these eight tips.