It’s something we don’t like to think about, but if you have a mum or dad who is getting older and might not be able to look after themselves at some stage, you might be considering adapting your home for an elderly parent.
This is a collaborative post
If you’re anything like me, you don’t want to think about it yet, and luckily mine are actually fitter than I am!
But if you have an elderly parent who might need to be cared for in the future it might end up being your responsibility.
Some parents are adamant they don’t want to go into nursing or residential care. And likewise some children are just as adamant that they won’t let them. Of course you can organise for them to have help come to their home. But what if it’s beyond that, and you decide to do it yourself?
Another option is for them to come and live with you in your house. But this could mean having to adapt your home for an elderly parent. What does this even entail? What things need to be done?
Here are a few things to consider to make life easier for both your parents and you.
How to adapt your home for an elderly parent
Having a stairlift installed
One of the first things to consider is whether or not your parents can still manage the stairs. If not, you might need to think about having a stairlift installed. This would make life infinitely easier for them, and means you won’t have to adapt one of your downstairs rooms for them. But what if your stairs aren’t straight? Mine turn back on themselves halfway up, so I’d have to start looking for a curved stairlift. Luckily they do exist and some can even travel around corners, across intermediate landings and even up spiral staircases. You can have them designed for your individual staircase.
Adapting the bath or shower
Another area you are likely to need to adapt for an elderly parent is the bath or shower. If they are likely to struggle getting in and out of a bath, you can install a bath lift to help them. You can also get walk-in baths or showers so they would not need to lift their legs over the side, or a seat for the shower. Something as simple as this could mean the difference between them being able to bath or shower independently.
If they are still able to get into a normal regular bath, it might be an idea to add grab rails to the inside of it. This could help them pull themselves back out from a lying position, and again mean they can use the bath independently for much longer without you needing to help.
You could fit a wet room
If you had the space in your house, or a big enough bathroom already, you could adapt your home for an elderly parent by fitting a wet room. This would mean there isn’t an actual shower cubicle with a tray for your parents to step into. Instead it is a more open space with the water flowing directly into a drain in the floor. Wet rooms are brilliant for disabled or elderly people as it means there is enough space for a wheelchair to be used in them
Use grab rails when adapting your home for an elderly parent
Grab rails can be placed not only in the bath, but near the bed or anywhere in the house where your parents might need help in getting up or moving about. If they are unsteady on their feet they are an ideal adaptation to your home and could help avoid falls and injuries.
Install ramps and step rails
If your parents need help walking and are a bit wobbly, then installing a rail outside your front door is a good idea, particularly if you have steps up to it. If they are already in, or likely to be in a wheelchair at some point, also consider building a ramp so they can access your house. The last thing you want is for them to come and live with you but they can’t even get into the house. You might also need to do this for the back door or any steps in the garden.
Adding motion sensor lights at your front door is also a good idea. It means a light will automatically come on as your parents either open the door from the inside when going out, or approach the front door from the outside when coming home. It’s a great security feature for your house anyway, but will also help them to be more safe and avoid tripping or falling.
Widen doors in your home
It might come to a point when you need to widen doorways in your home, if they are in a wheelchair. This might feel like a major job, but it is one you’ll need to consider doing when adapting your home for an elderly parent.
Lower kitchen worktops
If your parents are going to live with you and still be as independent as possible, they will want to be able to make themselves food and drink in the kitchen. It might mean that you need to lower some kitchen worktops so that they can reach them more easily, particularly if they are in a wheelchair. This will make things much safer for them.
Remove potential trip hazards in your home
According to the NHS around one in three adults over 65 and half of people over 80 have at least one fall a year. These can not only cause injuries but can also lead to the person to lose their confidence, and feel less independent which is not what we want for our elderly parents. Therefore anything we can do to remove trip hazards in our homes to prevent falls is vital.
This is things like removing furniture, items and cables from areas where you move around a lot. Although this is easier said than done if you still have children living at home! Either remove rugs altogether or secure them to the floor to prevent anyone tripping over them. Use non-slip bath and shower mats, install grab rails as we discussed above, and keep rooms well-lit so your parents can see where they are going.
There are lots of things you can do when adapting your home for an elderly parent, and there’s loads of advice online. It’s also worth contacting your local council to see if there is any financial help available for such adaptations.
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