How to adapt your home when caring for elderly parents

Elderly parents climbing stairs.

There comes a time for just about everyone when the tables turn, and they must begin caring for their elderly parents. Before moving your parents in, there are certain tasks to complete to ensure the transition goes smoothly. Remember, the move can be just as stressful for your parents as it is for you and your significant other. 

To reduce said stress, it’s important to prepare beforehand. The following tips will help you to prepare your home before your elderly parents arrive. So grab a pen and paper to jot down these tips or bookmark this page for further reference. Because when you successfully follow these tips, you’ll make life easier for yourself and your loved ones.

1. Prepare a Bathroom

Hopefully, you have a designated bathroom for your elderly parents to use while they stay with you. If not, then you’ll have to choose a bathroom to prepare for their arrival. Firstly, always keep in mind that the elderly commonly experience limited mobility.

Additionally, due to limited mobility, they become weaker and more injury-prone. For this reason, it’s important that you make the necessary modifications to your bathroom to make their stay more comfortable.

First, you’ll want to install a grab bar in the shower to make it easier for them to enter and exit. Also, you might want to consider adding a bath seat with armrests or a transfer bench. This way, if you help to bathe your parents, the job is easier, and there’s less risk of them falling.

Beyond the shower, you also want to consider installing a comfort-height toilet. Sal from recommends ADA toilets by TOTO, Kohler, and American Standard. Similar to a bath seat, a comfort-height toilet prevents injuries such as slip-and-fall accidents by making the toilet easier to mount.

If you prefer to keep your existing toilet, then there’s the option to invest in a compatible raised toilet seat. Similar to a comfort-height toilet, a raised toilet seat is easier to mount and dismount. As an added bonus, you’ll also find seats that feature arms for your parents to hold onto while using the facilities. 

Overall, the key consideration is to add some height to your toilet and visualize the safest setup for your parents to use. 

2. Add Mobility Aids Around Your Home 

If your home has steps at any point that are hard to climb for your elderly parents, then you’ll want to consider adding a threshold ramp or ramps. When choosing a threshold ramp, they’re available in various grades to match your needs, and they don’t have to be permanent. 

Next, if your parents must climb a flight of stairs to higher floors, then a stairlift is your best option. While not as easy to install as a threshold ramp, stairlifts eliminate the need for your parents to climb too many stairs. In most cases, stairlift installation requires a professional, though, once installed, maintenance is minimal. 

As for furniture, if your parents prefer to sit in a recliner, getting in and out of it may become a problem. The solution is to invest in a lift chair. A lift chair works by using a motor to lift or lower the seat portion of the chair to make it easier to mount. The advantage is that both mounting and dismounting are done automatically without your parents having to risk injury. 

3. Prepare Their Bedroom 

Like most items mentioned so far, you’ll want to start by making sure the bed is the proper height for your parents to easily get in and out of at night. If your parents are having trouble getting in or out of bed, then a good solution is an adult bed rail. 

To install a bed rail, simply slip it between the mattress and box spring before strapping it down to the box spring. A reliable model supports up to 300 lbs, making it easy for your parents to grab onto the rail when they need a little help to get out of bed. Additionally, bed rails feature storage compartments to store items such as a TV remote to make them easier to access and store before bed. 

After that, you’ll want to consider how you plan to ensure your parents don’t oversleep each day. A good solution is to invest in an alarm clock with a bed shaker. With a bed shaker, you’re able to gently wake your elderly parents who may have hearing issues without any extra effort. 

4. Secure Entryways 

Finally, it’s important to secure any entryways your parents need to access by installing items such as door grips. A door grip makes it easy for your parents to grab and twist doorknobs that could be difficult for a senior to grasp. 

Second, if there are rooms in your home that you don’t want your parents to access, then it’s important to install a door stopper or jammer. This way, if they are suffering from any ailments that cause confusion, they won’t be able to access certain rooms. 

Third, you always want to identify points where your parents could slip at entryways. This step is needed to provide anti-slip mats in areas where needed the most and to protect entryways. 

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll rest easier knowing that slip-and-fall accidents are highly unlikely and that your parents aren’t able to wander into any rooms they shouldn’t be accessing. 

Final Words 

When caring for elderly parents, it’s important to complete the steps on this list well ahead of time because you don’t want to be completing these items after your parents’ arrival. By thinking and doing ahead, you’ll eliminate most of the stress that accompanies moving your parents into your home. 

As always, there may be some trial and error involved. Consequently, patience is key until you have the optimal setup in place. After you reach that point, you’ll feel more confident in being able to live each day without incident.

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