There may come a time in your life when you need to begin preparing your home for elderly parents. From senior bedroom ideas to elderly friendly stairs, house modifications for elderly parents can be important steps to making a home safe for seniors.
Making the appropriate house adjustments for the elderly can feel overwhelming. After all, most people are much more used to baby-proofing than they are to creating an elderly-proof home. That’s why we’ve created this simple guide featuring seven essential tips to help you get started on making the necessary adjustments.
Do you wonder how to make your home senior friendly? Keep reading to learn more about senior citizen friendly homes.
Preparing Your Home for Elderly Parents
A lot goes into preparing your home for elderly parents. In an ideal scenario, they’d get to live in a one-story home with a no-rise entryway and a beautiful flower garden to enjoy. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to live out their days in the ideal scenario, and it’s up to you to make their new living arrangements as comfortable, convenient, and peaceful as possible.
Here are the seven adjustments to make for senior citizen-friendly homes:
1. Make Accommodations for Limited Mobility
Many of the elderly have trouble with their mobility. Whether your parents are slow-moving, don’t have enough strength to walk on their own, or have a handicap, your house needs to accommodate them. That means taking an inventory of your house and considering the locations and set-ups of the following:
- Stairs, bathrooms, bedrooms, and common rooms
- Doorknobs and handles throughout the house
- Width of doors, hallways, and bathrooms
- The number of steps from each room
You want to make sure your parents can get around with ease, and that they have enough space to do so. You also want to make sure that everything is accessible to them. For example, how far will their bedroom be from the bathroom? Are there large stairs in your home and multiple steps into other rooms? Are the kitchen appliances easy to use?
It all may seem trivial, but something as small as adding wall bars throughout the house can make a huge difference. Modifying stairs for the elderly can be complicated, but consider other alternatives for their mobility. Depending on their state of mobility, you may have to make other physical adjustments such as a wheelchair ramp or stairlift.
2. Secure Entryways
From stairs to lighting to coverings, you’ll need to transform your entryways into safe zones. Beginning with the exterior of your home, you’ll want to make sure that your driveway or pathway is level and free of cracks and gaps. It’s also a good idea to add non-slip strips or scuffs to improve your parents’ footing on wetter days.
If you have stairs that lead up to your door, you’ll need to install the appropriate railings or a no-rise ramp. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that everything is well-lit and easy to see. It’s a good idea to install motion sensor lights for everyone’s convenience.
The same goes for your interior entranceway. Everything should be accessible and non-slip, especially if you have tile flooring. Create a specific area for bags and packages that are out of the way. Also, avoid using thick area rugs as the edges can bend upward, causing a tripping hazard.
3. Elder-Proof Your Bathrooms
Bathrooms are the most dangerous rooms in your home. They’re full of slick surfaces, and that’s before you turn the shower on and fill them with moisture and condensation. The following are bathroom must-haves if you’re taking in elderly parents:
- Slip-prevention flooring; i.e., non-skid bath mats and non-slip strips
- Grab bars in showers and next to toilets
- Fold-down seats or benches in showers
- Hand-held adjustable shower heads with at least six feet of hose
- Increased lighting
Keep in mind that all grab bars should be installed with brackets and ready to support up to 300 pounds of weight. Additionally, it’s better to opt for U-shaped bars rather than diagonal ones to reduce slipping upon usage. Only use quality, sturdy products you can find at the hardware store.
4. Rearrange Furniture Accordingly
Part of making sure your home is safe for elderly parents is adjusting your set-up. If your home navigates like a maze, your parents are going to have a hard time getting around. Especially if they’re in a wheelchair or using a walker for assistance.
That means rearranging your furniture to create more space for them to move around.
If you can, move couches as close to the walls as possible, keeping any end tables at either side. Any raised thresholds should be accompanied by grab bars or railings, and make sure the flooring is even and slip-proof. Once again, area rugs are not ideal as they can become hazardous to those with limited mobility.
5. Set Up a Bedroom With a View
According to experts, elderly people need more sunlight. Your parents may not be able to get in and out of the house easily on their own, and chances are, you have a day job. One way to ensure they’re getting a healthy dose of vitamin D is by making sure their bedroom is sunshine-adjacent.
Also, having a nice view can help keep them feeling at ease, especially while they’re adjusting to their new living arrangements. Additionally, their bedroom should be modified for safety. Ideally, you’ll want their bedroom and bathroom to be on the first floor of the house, for both safety and convenience.
6. Clear Up Clutter
Whether you have a pet, kids, or a lot of stuff, you want to be sure that any clutter-causing items have a place. The last thing you want is your elderly parents tripping over dog or kid toys. You also don’t want them wasting energy rummaging through closets or piles of stuff because they can’t find something they need.
Anything that gets used on a daily basis should be kept available. Everything else should be neatly stored when not in use. It’s also a good idea to secure pets in their own designated area if they’re untrained.
7. Modify Your Kitchen
Your kitchen appliances should work for your parents—not the other way around. Manual dexterity decreases with age, and those trendy new appliances you have may not be senior-friendly. If you can, try and switch to appliances with push-button interfaces and easy-to-read controls.
In addition to the appliances, you also want to make sure that pantry items are easily accessible. You don’t want your elderly parents bending, reaching, or crouching for anything.
Make Them Feel at Home
Preparing your home for elderly parents also means making them feel at home. Make the transition easier by integrating your routines as much as possible. Allow them to add their personal items like artwork, photographs, or furniture to the decor. This will help them feel more welcome.
We specialize in caregiving. Whether you’re a senior in need of a helping hand or wondering how to get help caring for an elderly parent, read more about our at home care services or call our Care Team today at 434.202.8565.