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How to Get Your Home Ready for an Elderly Parent

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Millions of people have elderly parents, and they have to try to figure out the best way to care for and support them. If you have an elderly parent, having them move in with you may be a way for you to help them avoid isolation and depression and bond with them.

There are concerns that come with having an elderly parent move in your home, however. For example, you’re going to be adding another personality into the mix that will change your family dynamic. You also have to think about logistical considerations, such as how to make your home safe for an elderly family member and prevent falls.

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for people over the age of 65, so the safety of your home should play a big role in whether or not you decide to have an elderly family member live with you.

Your parent will also have things to consider on their end.

For example, how comfortable are they leaving behind activities or people they love, and will they be able to contribute financially, including to any renovations or home changes that may need to be made?

Before you make any decision, you should have an open and honest conversation with your elderly family member and the people who currently live in your home.

You’ll have to go over finances, house rules, and how to maintain privacy for everyone involved.

If your family’s gone over these important considerations and decided it is the best option to have an elderly family member move in, the following are tips to get your home ready.

The Initial Steps of Getting Your Home Ready

You’ll need to think about how your home might currently meet the needs of your loved one, but also how well it will meet their needs in the future. Future considerations could be based on chronic conditions as well as any current mental and physical concerns. 

Some things to consider specifically include:

  • Are you going to need to add square footage, such as an additional bathroom? If so, is that feasible for you?
  • You may need to retrofit doorways and bathrooms for a wheelchair and add ramps.
  • What room choice will you make for your relative? You’ll need a space that’s close enough to the bathroom and shared areas, and the space will need adequate storage as well.
  • How will the space you choose for your loved one impact the flow of daily life for everyone else in the household, and are there any steps you can take to mitigate that?

Bathroom Modifications

One of the most important areas of your home to make sure is safe for an elderly family member is the bathroom.

The bathroom, because of the moisture and hard, slippery surfaces, is one of the number one places people have accidents at home.

Even seemingly simple tasks like getting up from the toilet or out of the shower can be challenging for older adults too.

Grab bars can help make showering and using the toilet safer and help your loved one continue to be independent.

The best type of grab bars are ones that are permanently installed into wall studs.

If your loved one struggles with the toilet, even with grab bars, you might want an elevated seat with arms.

Other Falls Risks

There are some other fall risks, such as pets getting into the way, or toys that are left out. To reduce these risks, have a separate pet area or playroom set up.

You can also add non-slip wax on floors, and non-skid treads on any steps.

You might want to get rid of throw rugs and use bathmats with rubber backing.

To add more lighting, consider sensor lights.

If there are any changes in the surface elevation or the type of flooring that could present a tripping hazard, maybe add orange tape.

Finally, if you think you’re going to need a full-scale renovation or at least a pretty significant overhaul, you might want to speak with a professional. There is something called a certified aging-in-place specialist. This designation comes from the National Association of Home Builders.

A CAPS professional can help you best understand the safety needs of your loved one, and help you figure out what you need to do in your home. In older homes, there may be even more changes that need to be made, such as widening doorways.

There are some local and state programs that may provide financial assistance if you need to make modifications to your home, and sometimes a doctor may be able to write a prescription for a change needed in your home, so perhaps insurance will help.

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