Everyone’s parents will eventually age, unfortunately. That is when an important decision must be made- should we enroll them in a retirement village? Get in-home nursing or help staff? Or is there any other way we can help make the aging process easier for them? If we move them, what do we do with the home? We all just want our parents to feel comfortable and at ease while they age, and the solution will invariably depend upon the situation and the severity of any condition they may have. If you move them to a nursing home, then you must figure out what to do with their home- do you sell it or keep it? However, there is a great way to find a middle ground. By making appropriate home renovations, you can not only make their life easier, but also make them more comfortable as they grow older.
The number one factor when deciding what to do with an older parent is comfort. You want them to be in a situation where they are never upset or distraught with their surroundings. A nursing home is typically not a wanted solution, and a hospice is probably the last choice for both the parent and yourself. Given the inevitability of the aging process, the proper steps can help make this transition seamless. I have found that most older couples wish to remain in their home, no matter how old or debilitated they may be. That is where appropriate conditions can play a huge role in the viability of such an idea. We want to allow them to remain in their home, but the home may not be in the best condition to make this a feasible thought. There are a number of easy remodeling ideas that can help here. I have outlined just a few that I have encountered over the years, and I hope they can shed some light on this very difficult decision.
1) Bathroom Remodel
A full bathroom renovation is an easy, and relatively short project to make your parents’ life easier within their home. By having safe access to the shower and tub, you can be at ease while leaving your parent at home alone. Not to mention, bathing and restroom functions are often the most embarassing issues that an older parent will face. No one wants to require assistance when using the bathroom, or taking a bath or shower. We find that by adding a few changes to the shower- such as a handle for stability, curbless design, and perhaps a seating option can make any potential accidents a thing of the past. We also like to add heated tiles to the floor. This allows for comfort while entering and walking around, which everyone can enjoy. The sink and cabinets are not as important, but functionality is hugely important. We simply want them to not have to reach too high for a towel, and not have to try too hard to wash up in the sink area. A larger medicine cabinet may also be a smart idea- as the medications usually increase with age. We do not want any accidents when reaching for medicine or washing their hands.
2) Kitchen Renovation
Making changes to the kitchen can allow for your parents to experience the look and feel of a new home, while also making it easier to live in. The kitchen area is where a lot of older couples like to enjoy their time together, and a few simple upgrades can make this process even easier. We like to focus on accessibility- meaning the aisles are wide enough for a wheelchair or walker. This also includes the convenience of the sink, stove, refrigerator, and countertops being close to one another. By having enough space to easily cook and clean, the aging couple will not need much of any assistance when using the kitchen. We also typically install new cabinetry, which is a great way to make the kitchen look great while also adding some functionality. Seniors do not want to have to reach very high, which is why we often install cabinets on the lower level of the counters. We will not install anything that is out of arms reach, and that includes where the dishes, pots, and pans are stored. We have seen some couples utilize a simple step-stool system that integrates with the counters and lower cabinet areas. The options will be based on necessity, and there are never a shortage of ideas to accommodate most, if not all, conditions.
3) Stair Lift
Accessing the upper levels of the home can be a tall task for the aging parent. Installing a lift that can easily transport someone from the bottom of the stairs, to the top, and back down again, is an oft-requested upgrade. There are far too many falling accidents with seniors, and if this happens on the stairs you are looking at potential devastating injuries. That is where a stair lift can make this process much safer and eliminate any potential falling hazards down flights of steps.
By incorporating some or all of these ideas into your parents’ home, you can allow them to age in place gracefully and independently. We want to make their life easier, but also allow them to retain the dignity of being an adult that can take care of themselves. You can find more information, and locate contractors to come and give an estimate by contacting the government Administration on Aging. If you are in the Delaware area, Home Ideations is a trusted remodeling contractor that shows dedication to seniors looking to age in place.