When a senior loved one can no longer live alone, you may ask them to move in to your home. Many people do this for their parents or grandparents. This way, the elderly loved one doesn’t have to move to a nursing home and you will be able to keep an eye on them and hopefully avoid accidents or injury.
However, there are changes you will need to make in your home to ensure they can get around easily and they can use facilities without risk. Here are four different rooms and what you will need to change in them for your senior loved one.
The Front Door
If you can, convert your door threshold to one that lies flush to the floor. If there is a small step, it could work as a stumbling block for the elder who could easily trip and fall. If you cannot do this, then replace with a threshold that has a rounded shape so that catching shoes will be more difficult.
Remove any throw rugs from the main entryway. These rugs, especially when on hard flooring, are a definite hazard. It could be very easy for a senior loved one to trip and fall or slip on the rugs.
Even if your elderly loved one isn’t in a wheelchair at this time, they may be one day in the future. They may also need to use canes or walkers. Makes sure there is plenty of space in the bedroom for them to maneuver around with ease. It’s a good idea to remove any small obstacles that could trip them up as well.
In the closets, make sure to put storage shelves and clothes bars at a lower height so that elderly people can more easily reach them. Change light switches to rocker style models because they are much easier to use compared to standard flip models.
Make sure everything is within reach of the senior loved one. If you have very high cabinets, put the more useful items on lower shelves or on the counter. The elderly could injure themselves if they are trying to reach something on a high cabinet. Other changes you could consider making in the kitchen include:
- Making sure countertops are low enough to reach;
- Put the microwave at a low enough height to reach;
- Consider adding knee clearance at the sink and work areas for seniors in wheelchairs, and
- Always make sure there is enough clearance to maneuver around the kitchen.
Some of these changes will require fairly drastic renovations, so be sure you are prepared for the investment.
“Space doesn’t get more personal than the bathroom. You use it countless times every day. It should be comfortable, attractive, and safe.” (Making Your Home Senior Friendly) The bathroom could be especially hazardous for seniors who don’t have good balance or strength. Changes to make include:
- Install grab bars around the toilet and in the shower;
- Lower the bathroom sink especially if the senior is in a wheelchair;
- Make sure there is room to maneuver in the bathroom;
- Avoid throw rugs on the floor, and
- Install a bidet toilet seat, which will be easier to use and more hygienic.
It is fairly simple to make changes in the bathroom so that it can be safe for your loved one.
When your senior loved one is moving in with you, then you will need to make changes throughout your home. This way, they will be safe and you can ensure they are not at risk of injury. Little changes can make a big difference.
Making Your Home Senior Friendly. (n.d.). Retrieved January 9, 2014, from Age in Place: http://www.ageinplace.org/Practical-Advice/Housing/article/Making-Your-Home-Senior-Friendly