As we grow older, particularly as adults, many of us will inevitably reach the point where we begin worrying about the health of our parents. We want them to stay healthy and live independently as long as possible, but there will come a time to move your loved one/s into your home or senior living.
Creating a bedroom for your parent to feel at home needs to have their input. If your parent agrees, speak with their Doctor, or an Occupational Therapist, for recommendations that will enhance function and safety in your home. This person-centered focus helps ensure that any modifications made to a home will meet both current and future needs.
Minimize Bedroom Clutter to Prevent Accidents
There should be nothing in the bedroom that can potentially fall and cause accidents. The floors of the room should be clear, and the bedroom essentials; bed, dresser, television, medicine cabinet, etc., should be easily accessible.
Too many decorative elements would simply hinder their movement apart from making the area cluttered. This will help create an easy path of movement bringing down the chances of bumping into or tripping over something.
A bed that is higher than a normal one
Experts suggest that 25-36 inches is the ideal height for a bed for the elderly. This will ensure an elderly person does not have to bend too much to get on and off the bed. Also consider their height and quad muscle strength when choosing the bed height.
Move items you use often within easy reach
Don’t make your parent climb on things or strain themselves reaching for items you know they’re going to use. Think about what items in your kitchen, pantry, closet, and bathroom they will regularly need access to and re-organize the space to make sure they are all within easy reach.
Lower the temperature on your water heater
Hot water can cause some serious burn injuries if you’re not careful. Many manufacturers set the default temperature for the water heater higher than most people ever need it to be.
You can reduce the risk of accidentally scalding yourself while taking a shower or doing the dishes by reducing the temperature from 140° to 120°.
Add extra lighting
At any age, we need proper lighting in the house to make sure our eyes are not unduly strained to have a clear view. For an elderly person who might already be struggling with eye-sight related issues, having a proper lighting system in place becomes even more important.
Do a survey of your whole house to determine anywhere that could use more visibility. In most cases, you won’t need to add in new fixtures. You can buy affordable stick-on lights and light tape to put along stairs, on the ground, or in and under cabinets and drawers that are too dark now.
Make sure you create a good mix of white and yellow light. White light bulb is considered ideal for reading and other detail-oriented task work. A yellow-tinted bulb is considered a comfortable, homey light just like at grandma’s house, cozy, warm light.
Consider a Clapper or make your house Smart
One of the simple things that drastically increases the risk of a fall is having to walk anywhere in the house without a light on. If your light switches aren’t conveniently located, then walking in some level of darkness could be a regular occurrence.
The Clapper makes it easy to turn on the lights without getting up from your seat by simply making a loud noise. It’s a little more complicated, but many stores have a product like the Clapper that can be hooked up in your home to make things like turning on lights and changing the thermostat all possible to do by voice.
Advanced technologies allow us to run a lot of electrical appliances using a mobile phone. Free apps, such as Phillips Hue, Wemo, IKEA Home smart that will also turn lights on/off, regulate the heat and air conditioning.
Softer sounding Voices – how do they get your Attention
Changes related to aging can affect the voice, lessening projection and volume of the voice. Your parent may need help to call you for help within your home. Devices similar to baby monitors or walkie-talkies are helpful. Push button alerts call for medical help, which are very helpful if your parent is home alone. Ringing Christmas bells may be a signal.
Finding options for your parent’s individual needs may mean internet searches, asking their doctor or Occupational Therapist, asking friends and relatives. Your County Health and Human Services, Agency on Aging may have resources for seniors.
Install an elevated toilet seat
One of the most frustrating mobility issues many seniors face is finding it difficult to get up and down from the normal height placement of the toilet. An elevated toilet seat or using a beside commode makes the process much easier and installing one is pretty simple.
Widen your doorways
If your parent’s mobility issues ever reach the point where they need a wheelchair, a walker, or even just crutches, having more space to get through your doorways will be a blessing (and in some cases, required). It’s not a simple project, but at a certain point, widening your doorways could be the thing that keeps your parent home with you.
Lever-style handles instead of doorknobs are easy to use for those with arthritis or other nervous ailments. For faucets, drawers and cupboards, large handles would be ideal. The fitting should also be light in weight.
Install wheelchair ramps
A senior that starts to need a wheelchair to get around will need wheelchair ramps installed in various places around the home inside and out. Wheelchair ramps won’t become necessary for all seniors, but for those that do need them they’ll make all the difference in being able to stay in your home.
Add a Stair Lift
Stair lifts are costly, but if you only have bedrooms upstairs for your parent, then it’s an important addition to your home. Some forms of insurance may help cover the cost of stair lifts, so if you feel you need one for your parent but find the cost prohibitive, it’s worth doing some research to see if part of the cost will be covered for you.
Install a walk-in tub
Getting in and out of the tub is one of the most difficult and risky tasks a senior face once they start to have mobility and balance issues. Like a stair lift, a walk-in tub is a pretty costly addition to your home, but one that can increase the ease and safety of bathing considerably.
Consider lowering the shower step so transferring your parent is easier. Shower chairs or benches are generally available anywhere walkers, raised toilet chairs are sold.
Lever-style handles instead of doorknobs can be installed as these are easy to use for those with arthritis or other nervous ailments. For doors, drawers and cupboards, large handles would be ideal. The fitting should also be light in weight.
Your Parent’s Bedroom Colors –
can change the way they feel. While vibrant hues could be ideal for children and young couples, soothing and cool shades would be more suitable for the elderly. An example is off-white, mint green, brown tones, caramel, and wheat, may make your parent feel less stress about their new bedroom.
Your Parent will feel welcomed in a new home
Involve your parent in the decision and planning, ask if they have questions or concerns. Honor those preferences and allow them to maintain control. Keep their daily routine as much as possible. Involve the senior in arranging their new room. Hang pictures or artwork that they have from their old home. If possible, the first night watch a TV program or movie they love together or play a favorite game. Slow down and give them time to adjust to their new bedroom/home you have created together.