Making Your Home Ready for an Aging Loved One

This post was written by Hazel Bridges of agingwellness.org

Is a senior loved one moving in with you? You may need to modify your house extensively to make them comfortable. Seniors typically require specific fixtures, amenities, and other accommodations, depending on their health, age, and present medical conditions. Below, Ohana Care offers some reliable, tried-and-tested advice on revamping your home to make it senior-friendly:

Make the entryway accessible

First and foremost, consider how accessible your home is for your loved one. For example, most homes and apartments have entryways accessed through a flight of stairs. If the senior is capable of walking up the stairs, it’s all well and good. If, however, they use a wheelchair or have mobility issues, you may need to redo the entryway. Make a ramp with a railing, for example, or install a wheelchair lift to make it accessible for them. BraunAbility offers a guide on ramps for seniors.

Add a first-floor bathroom and bedroom

Consider putting your senior loved one up on the first floor instead of the second. That way, they wouldn’t have to labor up a flight of stairs every time they wanted to use the facilities. Make sure the bathroom is senior-friendly while you’re at it. Some ways to make it safer, according to AgingInPlace, are adding grab bars, shower seats, anti-skid flooring, and extra lighting.

Remodel the basement

Renovating the basement for your senior loved one may be a good idea if you’re short on living space and can’t swing the first-floor bedroom or bathroom. The basement can be modified extensively – you can fit it with a kitchen and bathroom – and be made accessible with a ramp, essentially turning it into a mini studio apartment, like what this son did for his parents. Alternatively, you could turn it into a personal space for your loved one.

DIY renovations are always an option, though they require time and expertise. Hiring a contractor may be more convenient and offer more reliable, higher-quality results. The exact cost of modifications will depend on your location, the improvements you want, and the materials used. If you add carpeting, you will want to avoid mold, so get a subfloor installation too.      

Declutter and remove fall hazards

According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 3 seniors 65 or older is likely to fall at least once. Needless to say, a fall can be disastrous. You need to do all you can to make sure it doesn’t happen to your loved one. Start by decluttering your home. Put away old newspapers and boxes, get rid of household items lying around, and organize your furniture to make room. If any loose floorboards are sticking out, get them fixed. Make the flooring even, where applicable, and consider adding anti-skid tiling. Lastly, add grab bars and handles in critical areas, like in the bathroom and along hallways and stairways.

Add more lighting

You’d be surprised by how much difference extra lighting can make. Your senior loved one likely can’t see as well as before – eyesight declines with age, and eyes have trouble adjusting to uneven or dim lighting. Good lighting will not only help your loved one move with more ease and confidence, with less danger of tripping and falling. Furthermore, more natural light or ambient lighting can help with their mood.

Be kind

Moving is a stressful experience. Your senior loved one may miss their previous home and even resent their loss of independence. Moving in with you will be a big adjustment for them, and it could be a few weeks before they are settled in. Be patient and positive, communicate with kindness, and be there for each other to make it easier for everyone involved. Ohana Care offers healthy aging tips that they can consult for a mental and emotional boost.

Conclusion

Structural modifications usually take a handful of weeks or months, so plan ahead. Consider modifying your home in stages to avoid being overwhelmed. Finally, talk to your loved one and account for their preferences when redoing your home – remember, the end goal is to make them happy and comfortable, and they know their wants and needs better than anyone.

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