Parents and grandparents are increasingly moving in with children and grandchildren to stay in the midst of family life, and receive care and assistance while remaining independent. Some seniors will have high care needs, while others will only need a few adjustments to make the home comfortable.
Preparing your home for your senior relative to move in can feel challenging to begin with, and the changes needed can feel daunting. While it can be a stressful experience for both yourself and your loved one, with some preparation, the move can be rewarding for the whole family. Below we catalogue some tips for preparing your home to accommodate your relative.
1. Independent Living Products
Seniors often experience a change in certain abilities, such as eyesight, hearing, grip and dexterity. This can make tasks that others take for granted a little more challenging as they get older. However, your relatives can still remain independent with a few changes around the home to facilitate active living. Daily living aids, such as one-touch can openers, safety kettle tippers, door openers and dressing assistance items mean that your loved one can take control of their own daily care tasks, such as making coffee or tea, eating, and cooking, and remain independent. It is also a good idea to replace microwaves, heating switches and clocks with ones that have large print, so that seniors are able to read and operate these items.
Kettle Tippers can offer independence in the kitchen while ensuring safety for those with a lower grip strength
Taps (faucets for US readers!) can also be a challenging for seniors as grip strength diminishes, so looking into items that can assist with turning on and off taps is also a way to help your senior family member stay in control of their own lifestyle. You can browse LifeMobility’s range of daily living aids, including cooking, dressing, tap turners and bathroom items, here.
2. Mobility Aids
Many seniors are taking advantage of the great mobility aids now on the market. This can range from power scooters to four-wheel frames, and can help seniors to walk or drive around as they please, rather than requiring assistance with mobility. If your family members uses, or may use a mobility aid in the future, it is important to consider this in your home preparation. If you have children, explain to them the hazard that clutter and items on the ground can have for your family member, and prepare storage spaces for items that are usually left on the floor. Also consider steps, and how these can be converted to ramps for power scooter users. You can view our range of temporary and transportable ramps here. Of importance is also the bedroom at night, where slips and trips can occur. If your family member uses a mobility aid, make sure there is plenty of space for the mobility aid next to the bed, and that it can be used easily to get from the bed to the doorway to avoid slips and trips at night. For more information on bedroom safety, we have covered some tips for avoiding falls in the bedroom in our blog.
Simple items such as threshold ramps are easily transportable, and can make a very big difference to the independence of people who using wheelchairs and walking frames.
If your elderly loved one uses a mobility aid, it is also important to consider the height of counters and bench tops, so that they can be easily reached from a scooter or wheelchair. Cracked and uneven pavements outside should also be considered as falls hazards.
Mobility aid access and manoeuvrability is also important in the lounge room and bathroom, so investigate the space needed to use, move, turn and store these items near enough for the person to use in a hurry.
Lighting is of importance when moving your family member into your home. If you have some corners of the home that are dimly lit or difficult to see at night, it is important that you consider changing the lighting in these areas, so that they can be clearly seen by people who may have a vision impairment.
While other family members may find these bright lights indoors or outdoors intrusive, there are a variety of options available to keep all family members comfortable. Such options include outdoor lighting or hallway lighting that switches on in response to movement, or dimmer switches, so family members can decide the amount of lighting they want in the room while accommodating a vision impaired person.
4. Bedroom and Bathroom Safety
We have covered bedroom safety in our blog, but there are other important parts of consideration for bedroom and bathroom safety that are good to keep in mind. While not necessary for everyone, a bed that raises and lowers for easy entry can be important for some seniors with certain mobility needs. Funding may be available for some seniors to purchase products for the home, and your local GP or OT can help you work out if you are eligible. Over-toilet frames, and removable grip bars, as well as non-slip mats in the bathroom, shower and bath can help seniors to avoid sliding on wet surfaces, which is the major issue in the bathroom.
Specialised non-slip bath and shower mats can help seniors maintain independence in the bathroom while avoiding falls in slippery areas.
Shower stools and commodes, as well as bedside commodes can help seniors to take care of their own hygiene and remain independent even with limited mobility. You can view our range of bathroom items here, for some more ideas on what might be useful.
5. Familiar objects
Moving into a new home due to ageing can be very upsetting and stressful for elderly relatives, as they face a decline in their abilities, as well as an entirely new space. Many people have lived in their previous home for as much as 50-60 years, and a move can feel very confronting. Working out which pieces of furniture and personal items can come into your home with your relative is an important part of the moving process, and can help your loved one feel comfortable in their new home. Personal items such as books, photos, bed linen, wedding gifts etc., can help people feel more at home in their new space, and not as much as if they are losing their independence. Large furniture items such as dining room suites, couches and chairs and beds, if they are still able to be used safely, and there is space in your home, can go a long way to easing the transition. If your loved one has a pet, making room for them as well within the house can help your loved one feel more at home.
6. Electronic safety and recreation devices
Electronics can be a little confusing for some seniors to begin with, but can add quality of life and peace of mind. Teaching your loved one to use a mobile phone and carry it with them means that they can still make contact with those they care about, and have a device with them in an emergency. Other people find that an emergency necklace that can be pressed in the event of a fall or emergency creates peace of mind when an elderly person is at home alone, and are easy to use than a mobile phone in the event of an injury.
Other seniors are finding with a little help, that they are becoming connected on the internet and devices. The internet can be great for seniors with limited mobility to stay in touch with family members, hobbies, and news.
Local community groups, such as U3A offer courses in iPhone and iPad use, including digital photography for Seniors.
Other seniors enjoy using iPad and tablets, as they can allow books to be easily loaded and put into large print for easier reading. A variety of apps to assist the elderly are also available, but should be carefully reviewed before installing. You can also install apps related to hobbies – such as crosswords, cooking or music apps, meaning that your family member can still enjoy hobbies and entertainment.
With some small changes and adjustments around the home, the preparation for an elderly family member can mean that your family and loved one can live together safely and comfortably. For more information on home products to assist seniors, you can also contact us or visit our showroom.