Preparing Your Home for Your Senior Parent

Most people are excited when their senior parents can live with them instead of in a care home. This is a big commitment, but families are more than ready to do that so that they can ensure that their loved one receives the best care while being surrounded by a loving family. Moving in a senior parent also gives family members fond memories that will last a lifetime. These tips will help guarantee that homes are properly prepared for senior parents to ensure that everyone, including caregivers, can enjoy those moments without the stress of preparing their home after a loved one moves in.

Eliminate Fall Hazards

Fall hazards are a common concern for elderly patients. Because senior citizens may not be able to pick their feet up as high or lift their walker, they are more likely to fall. These common fall hazards should be eliminated before senior parents move in:

  • Trip hazards. Cords running across the floor, clutter and other things laying on the floor can be fall hazards. Senior parents can easily trip over these. Move extension cords so that they run around the perimeter of the room, pick up clutter and ensure that everything on the floor remains picked up to eliminate trip hazards.
  • Rugs are a very common fall hazard. If possible, avoid rugs. Rugs with fringes should be trimmed so that extra strings do not get caught on walkers, and rugs should be properly affixed in place. Purchasing extra rug mats to place underneath rugs is an exceptional way to keep them where they are supposed to be, and it can help prevent falls.
  • Create wider walkways. Small walkways can be difficult for elderly parents to navigate, which can result in falls. Rearrange furniture and move small furniture to another room to create walkways that provide plenty of space for senior parents, walkers and possible wheelchairs.
  • Ensure that there is proper lighting throughout the house. Nightlights can be used after sunset to light dim corners of the room, and brighter lightbulbs can be used in place of low wattage bulbs. This will help senior parents see where they are going, and help prevent falls

These are common ways to reduce the risk of falls. Other steps can be taken as caregivers see the need. For example, a senior parent might require a walk-in tub or shower for bathing, but this might not be necessary when a parent first moves in. Most areas have organizations that will conduct a fall hazard check for free before a senior parent moves in if caregivers are interested in that service.

Easy to Use Phone

Having a phone for seniors is essential if a senior parent is moving in. They may need to call someone in case of an emergency, want to talk to other friends or family, or they may simply like playing games on their phone. A cell phone for seniors or a cordless phone that is purchased specifically for parents is ideal. This allows them to carry the phone with them. If they fall and no one else is home, they can easily get their phone out of their pocket to call someone to help them.

Phones for seniors are designed to be easy to use. They often have larger buttons to accommodate declining motor skills, and they may have louder speaker volume than standard phones to ensure that senior parents can hear everything that is said on the phone.

Shower Handrails

Showers can be slippery, and senior parents may have a difficult time moving around in the shower. Installing handrails in the shower will help reduce the risk of falls in the shower, and it can make it easy for seniors to maintain independence as they will be able to take a shower by themselves.

Handrails in the shower are a necessity for seniors that require a shower chair to bathe. It can be difficult for seniors to move from a sitting to a standing position, but handrails will give them the additional support that they need to do this.

Slip Resistant Flooring

Prevent falls with floor coverings in high hazard areas. When caregivers take the time to implement these ideas, they instantly decrease the risk of a loved one slipping:

  • Shower floor. Invest in a shower mat that suctions to the bottom of the bathtub to prevent slips in the shower.
  • Bathroom floor. Stepping out of the shower often means stepping onto a wet floor and possibly slipping. Put a non-skid bathmat outside of the shower door so that senior parents will not slip when they are done with their shower.
  • Kitchen floor. Most kitchens have a back door, which results in snow being tracked indoors, and the floor being wet. This creates a hazard for senior parents. Caregivers can use non-skid rugs or runners to give senior parents a slip-proof floor to walk on.

Don’t Forget Outside

Most caregivers conduct a thorough assessment of the interior of their home as they prepare for the arrival of a senior parent, but they neglect the exterior of the house. These tips can make entering and exiting the house easier:

  • Install handrails on both sides of stairs
  • Install a ramp in place of stairs if possible
  • Use color contrast strips on the first and last step to make identifying where steps are easier
  • Repair uneven sidewalks
  • Make sure sidewalks and stairs are free from clutter

Often, senior parents will want to go about their daily lives after moving in. Make sure that the exterior of the home provides a safe space for them to enter or exit the house regularly to increase both independence and safety.

Inviting a senior parent to move in is a big step in the caregiving process. Use these tips to make sure that the transition is both smooth and safe. Your loved one will appreciate having their own senior phone to use and being safe as they navigate through their new home.

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