It is becoming increasingly common for elderly parents to move in with their children rather than a nursing home or assisted living facility. It’s estimated that at least 34 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers for elderly relatives, spending an average 21 hours a week providing care. This arrangement can be beneficial in numerous ways, but it requires a considerable amount of self-sacrifice and patience. Preparing your home before Mom or Dad moves in is an excellent way to get the arrangement off to the right start. “Elder-proofing” your home will prevent accidents and make life safer for the senior. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
How to Make Your Home Senior-Friendly
Whether you are sprucing up a spare bedroom or building an addition, specific adjustments will need to be made to accommodate the senior moving in. You will need to:
- Lay down anti-slip mats under your throw rugs, or remove all rugs completely.
- Fit furniture bumpers over sharp corners to soften the edges.
- Ensure all walkways are well-lit. Plug night-lights into the bedroom, bathroom, and hallway.
- Replace door knobs with easy-to-open handles.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom.
- Reposition any furniture obstructing walk ways.
- Install ramps for wheelchairs and widen doorways if necessary.
How to Make Your Home Their Home
Making your elderly parent feel at home is just as important as keeping them safe. Adjusting to a new home and lifestyle will be difficult, so you’ll want to make it as seamless as possible. Here are a few tips.
- Bring in as much of your parent’s furniture as possible.
- Decorate the senior’s bedroom with their tastes in mind.
- Try to make room for your relative’s pet (if they have one).
- Get your parent a cell phone, or at least put a landline in their room.
You may also want to consider having a separate thermostat in your parent’s bedroom. Older ones often like it warmer than the rest of the family, but they may not speak up if they are uncomfortable. If a separate thermostat is not an option, purchase a space heater. The lengths you go to determine your parent’s safety and comfort will determine the success (or failure) of the living arrangements. Remember, your parents did everything they could to care for you as a child; this is your chance to return the favor.