It’s a problem most of us will face at some point. Taking care of our aging parents or loved ones. We’ll have to make hard decisions about medical care, their mental health, and ultimately, where they will live as they age.
Many aging parents want to spend their golden years at home. Learn about 10 modifications that can help them stay at home and “age in place”.
Statistics show that 85% of baby boomers and Generation Xers would prefer for their aging parents to stay at home, but in order to do so, some home modifications will need to happen.
DIY Home Modifications
As our loved one’s age, there will be a need to make their home safer. This will allow them to stay in their home for as long as possible.
Here are some easy, DIY home modifications that anyone can do to allow for more time spent in their home.
1. Open Up Space
The more space you have in each room, the better. Clear any unnecessary furniture and keep just what you need.
It’s important to simplify the home and allow for better pathways as your loved one’s age. This will help them to avoid bumping into things and allow for easier upkeep.
Just keep what is used and get the rest out of the way. Maybe consider donating the items to charity, putting them on craigslist, or seeing if other family members are interested in having them.
2. Remove Tripping Hazards
Take a look around and notice anything that may be a tripping hazard. This includes rugs, cords, and doggy beds.
Rugs, no matter how great they look, can especially be a tripping hazard to elderly people who can’t walk very well. If they curl on the ends or bunch up, they need to be removed.
It’s also important to clear up any cords. Use cord covers or take them to the wall to avoid any trips and falls in the future.
And think about placing pet supplies in an area where they are out of the way. This includes doggy beds and food bowls.
3. Adjust the Water Heater
Scalding water can cause serious burns. Most manufacturers set the hot water heater much higher than needed. We recommend changing the water heater to 120 degrees. This will avoid any serious accidents while bathing or washing dishes.
It’s easy for aging individuals to slip in the shower and grab the water handle on the way down causing the water to turn hotter. Avoid any unnecessary injuries by keeping the water temperature at safe levels.
4. Extra Lights
Most older homes could use some additional lighting in closets, dark corners, and near the stairs.
Having more light will allow for better visibility and you may not even need to hire an electrician. Consider buying stick on lights or light tape. Use these products to add light to drawers, pantries, and hallways.
5. Make Your Home Smart
There are so many great products out there that allow you to turn on lights, set the temperature, and even play music by voice command.
It may take some time and effort to set up, but saying a command to turn on the light or to lower the shades would be tremendously convenient for those who are aging.
No more stumbling to find the light switch.
6. Switch Out Handles
Round doorknobs and handles can be a challenge for shaky hands that have arthritis. As elder hands become weaker, it may be time to switch out door handles and faucets.
Find lever handles. These are easier to open. This is a job that will need some tools and some basic DIY know-how. If you aren’t feeling up to the job, consider hiring a handyman to help.
Advanced Home Modifications
Unfortunately, not all home modifications will be easy. Some will be more advanced and will require professional help.
If these modifications seem overwhelming, you may want to consider looking into a home care agency.
7. Widen Doorways
If mobility becomes an issue, one of the first things you’ll need to do is widen your doorways to allow for wheelchair accessibility, a walker, or even crutches.
This is not a simple project, but one that will allow your elderly loved ones to stay in their home.
Be aware though, that depending on insulation, electrical outlets, and door frames, this can be an expensive project.
8. Add a Stairlift
Again, another costly fix, but necessary if stairs are too much of a challenge. If the bedroom is upstairs, and the kitchen is downstairs, and staying in the home is still the number one options, a stair lift will be needed.
Some insurance may help cover the cost, but you will need to do some research to see what options are available.
9. Bathroom Modifications
Major renovations will be needed for the bathroom. This includes installing a walk-in tub, handrails, and an elevated toilet seat.
In fact, statistics show that falls in the bathroom are the top causes for injuries among the elderly.
Getting in and out of the tub, and getting on and off the toilet are two of the most difficult tasks once seniors start to lose mobility and have balance issues.
10. Flooring Modifications
Flooring is another serious considerations when making home modifications. You may need to change the flooring if it is old, slippery, or a tripping hazard.
Shaggy carpet will need to be replaced with a shorter carpet to avoid tripping and allow for wheelchairs and walkers to be pushed easier.
Slippery vinyl will need to be replaced by something that has a little more tractions, and old hardwood floors with joints that stick up will need to be sanded and refinished.
How to Stay at Home, Longer
If you find yourself wondering how to make sure your aging parents can stay at home for as long as possible, follow this guide. It will ensure that your loved ones can stay safe in the comforts of their own home.
It may take some work and the upgrades will cost some money, but at the end of the day you’ll be happy and have peace of mind knowing that your aging loved ones are taken care of.