Making Your Parent’s Home Senior-FriendlyOctober 26, 2022
Aging in place isn’t a privilege everyone gets, and it may not even be a mental limitation that makes it unsafe to be at home. It may be because your parent’s home isn’t senior-friendly. As time goes by, it will become more and more difficult to remain in this location.
The truth of the matter is most homes are not senior-friendly. According to a Census report, only 10% of homes can accommodate seniors as-are. As a result, the family of older adults often have to take appropriate steps to ensure their loved one’s home is safe to live in. This is the only way they can age in place.
Have you recently realized that your elderly parent’s home isn’t suited to their needs? If so, try these tips for making your parent’s home senior-friendly.
Some of the top hazards for the elderly
- Clutter. While it may seem like a relatively innocuous threat, clutter is quite dangerous to seniors. It can create fall risks and even make it so they cannot access a particular area of their home. On the counter or tabletop, important documents and medications can be hidden in the mess.
- Poor lighting. Quality lighting is important for senior safety, especially at night or in the early morning. If seniors have difficulties seeing around their homes, they are at a higher risk of falls.
- Fires. Seniors are more susceptible to fires due to mobility issues. Clutter in the kitchen, around fireplaces and candles, and in walkways leads to a higher fire risk.
- Kitchens. Tripping hazards, potentially wet floors, and sharp objects make kitchens dangerous for seniors.
- Bathrooms. Slick surfaces and tripping hazards make seniors more likely to slip in the bathroom than anywhere else. Install slip-prevention flooring, grab bars next to toilets and in showers, and seats or benches for bathing.
As you start to assess whether or not your home is safe for seniors, chances are that these concerns will need to be tackled first. Start in a particular room or with a particular task in mind to make it more manageable.
Making your parent’s home senior-friendly
It’s daunting to single-handedly determine what it is your aging parent’s home needs to be more accommodating of them and their needs. It’s even more exhausting to attempt to fix all the problem areas yourself. If you have siblings, commission their help to form a plan of action.
Particular hazards will vary in particular homes. However, your plan should include these tasks no matter what their living situation is.
Make their entryways accessible
Consider every entryway to your parent’s home. Can they easily get in and out of it as necessary? If the answer is even, “I’m not sure,” you should make changes. Their driveway and sidewalk should be free of cracks, gaps, and dips. If there are stairs leading up to the front door, you should be sure there are appropriate railings and/or wheelchair ramps.
Once you get inside the home, you should consider the interior entryway. Be mindful of tile or wood floors that can grow slick due to rain or snow on shoes. Consider placing a thin, no-slip rug that can catch dampness and won’t serve as a tripping hazard.
To avoid an accumulation of clutter, create a specific location where your loved one can place bags, packages, coats, and shoes. This could be a hall tree, or something as simple as a console table. Do whatever you need to make sure everything has its place.
Install motion-activated lighting
When an area is poorly lit, seniors are more likely to experience trips and falls. If you notice that certain areas of the home are particularly dark even with overhead lights on, you should consider purchasing motion-activated lights.
The prospect of motion-activating lighting may sound expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You can purchase a pack of three motion-activated lights for as little as $10. Some you can install with a sticky pad on the back, or by placing it on a magnetic circle. It is truly as simple as it sounds and will make a world of difference in the overall safety of your parent’s home.
These will come in handy at night when your loved one might need to get up for a glass of water or the restroom.
Rearrange furniture for ease of mobility
The way your parents’ furniture was set up 30 years ago may not suit them anymore—especially if they’re using a wheelchair or walker now. Help your parent get around their homes with more ease by rearranging their furniture to create larger walkways. Take a look at every room and figure out what you can move to make it more accessible.
This may mean parting with smaller pieces of furniture that clutter up the space. You should also consider removing area rugs, as they can be tripping hazards for those with limited mobility.
Put the brightly colored tape at potential tripping hazards
There will be some things about the home you might not be able to change. Floors changing from tile to carpet, the corners of stairs, and certain cords are all tripping hazards you may not be able to do anything about. Do what you can to minimize the risk, of course, but if you can’t eliminate it, you may want to create a warning.
Alert your loved one to these potential tripping hazards by placing brightly colored tape over them. It’s even better if this tape is slightly reflective so they can more easily catch one’s eye. Just know you may have to replace the tape every few months as it wears down.
If possible: move them to a first-floor bedroom
Second-floor bedrooms can grow to be difficult for seniors to access. Climbing up the stairs is exhausting, and can be a tripping hazard. So, if your parent’s home is two stories, consider moving them to the first floor. If possible, move their room close to a bathroom so they don’t have to wander the whole first floor to use it at night.
This may mean some repurposing of rooms. For instance, you may have to transform an office space into a bedroom. Weigh out your options with your loved one.
If you have the funds: consider a slight remodel
There are certain things that you can’t change with some slight tweaking. Not all doorframes can accommodate a wheelchair. The counter height might be too tall. The cabinets might not be easily accessible. A different shower may be necessary so they don’t have to step over the tub.
If your parent is serious about staying in their homes for the rest of their lives, you may have to hire a professional contractor to make home modifications so your parent’s home is senior-friendly. Take inventory of what it is your parent needs to live safely at home before having your initial meeting. There are even professionals who offer home assessments specifically with creating a senior-friendly home in mind.
Home care associates can help your parents stay safe at home
If you’ve made all the necessary changes to your parents’ house but are still concerned about leaving them at home alone for too long, consider hiring the help of an at-home caregiver. At Home Care Powered by AUAF, our dedicated professionals can assist with any of the activities of daily living they struggle with. This may include:
- Personal care
- Medication reminders and management
- Meal preparation
- Light housekeeping
- Brain games and activities
For more information on our program, call us at 773 -274-9262.
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