The time has come: You’ve spoken to your parent about coming to live with you, and the big move-in day is here at last. You’re ready to give caregiving at home a shot. But is your home senior-proofed and safe for your parent? Moving your parent in to live with you isn’t as simple as renting a moving van and clearing out a room in your home. Seniors don’t just need special attention and care from seniors helping seniors services. They need to live in a home that’s safe, practical, and most of all accessible. That means you want to minimize the risk of slipping, tripping, and straining in every room and entryway of your home. If you don’t know where to start, that’s okay. All you have to do is take it one project at a time. If you’re looking for ways to get your home ready for your aging parent, here are some places to start.
Make Everything Slip-Proof
When a senior reaches an advanced age, any slip has the potential to become a huge problem. That means that surfaces you might never have thought of as being hazardous, including the tile kitchen or bathroom floor, can become risky places for your senior to travel through each day. In addition to having your senior wear grip slippers or shoes in the house, make sure you invest in bath mats, slip-proof shower mats, rubber kitchen rugs or mats, and even rugs for your hallways or any areas where there’s a wood or tile floor. If you have rugs in place already, make sure they’re securely held in place, either by tacking or by rubber padding. If you’re able to invest in more senior-friendly additions to your home, such as accessibility bars for the shower and toilet, do so. If your senior needs a ramp to travel inside, try installing one in front or by the side entryway. Give your senior room on the first floor even if it means giving up your bedroom and moving the kids into new rooms. When it comes to your aging parent, you want to make everything as comfortable and accessible as possible.
Get Rid of Hallway Clutter
You might not think of all those boxes and books piled up in the hallway or at the foot of the stairs as being potentially dangerous to your parent, but during the night or even in the middle of a slip and fall, those obstructions represent a major risk to your parent’s health. Don’t leave your parent with a narrow pathway that causes them to have to duck and dodge things every time they want to leave their room. If your kids leave tons of toys around or if you see dog toys laying in the middle of the hallway, make sure you pick them up and keep everything clear. Talk to your kids about making sure the floors stay uncluttered and do your best to keep large, unwieldy packages and objects off the ground.
Create an Easy Pathway to the Bathroom
No matter how old your parent is, one thing is certain: They’re going to need to make a lot of middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. Even if you’ve installed grab bars and other senior-accessible features in your bathroom, you’ll still need to think about helping them actually get there during the night. That means not only giving your senior a room close to the bathroom but lighting up the path so they won’t have to stumble around in the dark multiple times a night. Installing plug-in nightlights is a good way to do this. You can also get creative and line your hallway with a string of lights to guide the way. Keep the bathroom door open during the night, and think about installing clap lights or motion sensor lights both in the bathroom and in your senior’s room to make things easier.
Make the Kitchen Senior-Friendly
Getting your parent involved in household routines, such as helping with the dishes or cooking family meals, is a great way to keep them active and engaged with the family. However, your usual kitchen tools aren’t always the most senior-friendly. Think about using appliances that are simple to use and have large instructions printed on them. You can make the microwave and toaster more accessible by placing them lower down or in a drawer. Using open cabinets or lazy susans will help your senior get everything they need without a struggle. You’ll also be helping them feel at home around the kitchen even when you’re not around.