How to Make Your Home Safe for Aging Parents
Throughout history, it has been common for people to take care of their parents in their old age- or at least to provide for the care of their elders. Whether a person provides the care for their elder parents themselves or hires a nurse or aid to give said care- keeping aging parents in their home and close to the family is a wonderful way to show our parents how much we love and appreciate them.
However, it must be acknowledged that caring for an elderly person is fraught with serious challenges. Many of these challenges are emotional, but many more are practical and safety related. As an aging parent becomes increasingly frail, making their home safe for them becomes increasingly more difficult. Here, we will discuss some of the ways adult children can retrofit a home to help accommodate an aging parent.
Mobility and Gait
As the powers of the mind and body slowly begin to wane, the risk of falls becomes more frequent and serious. Every room an elderly person occupies presents specific falling hazards. These risks can be mitigated using handrails, sticky mats on slick floors, and other mobility aids. Showers can be equipped with handrails and sit-down benches that greatly reduce the risk of falls.
Every aging person should have an active channel by which he or she can call for help in the instance of an emergency. In the early stages, a mobile phone may be enough. As the elder becomes more frail, something akin to a “life alert” around the neck is a good solution. Other possibilities include voice-activated telephones and PC applications which can open a Skype (or similar app) window to someone who can send help.
Standing & Furniture
Elderly people frequently have significant issues with back pain or other problems that make standing and walking painful or difficult. Specialized easy chairs are available that help an elder to stand. There are a number of mechanical beds on the market that can help an elder to sit up or exit the bed. Walkers, mobility scooters, and other such aids come in a variety of forms.
Ease of Cleaning
Getting an aging parent to stop being proactive about the chores they are used to doing can be a big problem. It may be unsafe for them to perform small chores or even to clean up after themselves. For this reason, it is a good idea to install easy to clean surfaces at an early stage. In time, the best solution is probably to employ a maid or caregiver to do the things the elder person should be excused from doing.
Considerations for Challenges to Dignity
As we age, we become more prone to all manner of conditions that limit our independence and our ability to render self-care. For the elderly person, these challenges can be extremely emotionally taxing. Therefore, taking simple measures to protect the dignity and privacy of the elder person is paramount. Simple privacy curtains can be a good way to start.