We all get older, but sometimes it can be difficult to watch our parents get older. As we age, our bodies slow down and we’re not able to do everything we once could. Even the healthiest and most active senior citizens aren’t at the same level they were decades before. Whether active or sedentary, aging is a part of life and there are certain modifications that need to be made.
If you’re thinking about having one or both of your aging parents live with you instead of in their own home or in an assisted living facility, there are several things that need to be considered. The good news is that that most of the time, the hardest decision to make is where to place your aging parent. If you’ve decided that your home is the best place, here’s what needs to be done ahead of time.
Prepare Your Home
If you’ve decided to care for your aging parents right in your home, you may have to make some home modifications. For one, your parent may not be able to use the stairs in your house. This means that their room will have to be on the ground floor. Senior falls are very prevalent and most falls occur within the home. This also means that you should place pets in a secure area and keep children’s toys and other items clear of pathways that see heavy traffic.
Certain types of flooring are better at preventing falls than others. While carpet is softer, older carpet can be frayed and uneven, increasing the risk for falls. Carpet may also be harder for seniors with walkers and wheelchairs to get around the house. Be cautious of hardwood and laminate flooring as well, because these tend to be slippery surfaces. Shorter, less thick carpet is usually ideal for seniors.
Another valuable modification would be to add non-slip bath mats into showers, shower chairs, and shower safety bars. Walk-in showers and bathtubs are also good options for your loved ones. These home improvements should be completed before your aging parent moves in to help reduce the risk of unwanted accidents.
Other Safety Preparations
In addition to modifying your home to be safer for your aging parent to live in, there are other safety precautions that need to take place.
Even in the safest and most prepared home, accidents can still happen. This is why it is important to have a well-stocked first-aid kit. Essential items include bandages and gauze of various sizes, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, hydrogen peroxide (or another antiseptic solution), adhesive tape, a thermometer, tweezers, and over the counter medications for allergies, fever, and pain.
Smoke Detectors and Fire Extinguishers
Make sure that all smoke detectors are working and you have a good fire evacuation plan prior to your aging parent moving in. Smoke inhalation can cause serious health problems, especially in the elderly, so it’s important to be able to evacuate in the event of a fire. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a fire extinguisher in or near places where fires are likely to start, such as the kitchen and fireplaces. You should also check to make sure that there isn’t any faulty wiring in your home that may cause a fire.
New rules may have to be enforced in larger families. Small children will likely have to keep the noise to a minimum or move all play outdoors whenever possible. Teenage and young adult children may have to alter social schedules to help out with their aging grandparents. For some families, there may not have to be any additional changes. The important thing to remember is to do what works best for your family.
Many people decide that having their parent/s live with them is the best option, due to not being able to afford assisted care, or for the fear of exposure to nursing home abuse. Whatever the reason, it’s important to make sure that your aging parent is safe and comfortable, no matter where they’re living.
Another thing to remember is to always do what works best not just for your aging parent, but for your family. Some homes may not be big enough to accommodate an aging loved one. Some seniors may prefer to stay in their own homes. In any case, the safety and comfort of your loved one should always be taken into consideration.