parenting relationships

How to Prepare Your House for Taking in Elderly Parents

How to Prepare Your House for Taking in Elderly Parents #parenting #relationships #caregiving

“Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible”

Recently a friend of mine lost his dad. Now, naturally, he’s worried about his mom staying alone. Of course, she’s confident—but age is not kind, you know. He can’t help but worry about her. His brother and he have suggested that she divide her time between them, and she’s thinking about it. However, she’s a little adamant about wanting to live in her own house—alone.

They discussed different solutions—hiring a companion who would stay with her. However, that’s not the best idea as mom’s rather strong-willed.

Then something happened to precipitate the decision. Mom had an accident. So right now, she has no choice but to live with one of them, at least until she recovers, which will take a while. Again, age. Sigh.

The truth is—whether we admit it or not—it is not an easy decision to take in your elderly parents. It may feel like a social obligation that dutiful children should do without question. But no one should ever do it out of pressure. Both parties should be comfortable with it. You have a family of your own. And that family is going to be dramatically affected by bringing more people into the household, especially people with special needs.

Elder care is a thing that parents and their adult children should sit down and talk about long before the matter needs to be acted upon. Plans need to be made well in advance. All parties need to know exactly what to do in the event that elderly parents can no longer live on their own.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out as neatly as we would like. People don’t always plan. Life happens in unpredictable ways. Even when there are plans, they are often disrupted, leaving us to make the best of a difficult situation. Whether due to a plan, or a plan failed, here are the first few steps for preparing your house for your elderly parents:

Deal with the Stairs

My friend invested in a two-storey house, because he always wanted one. But at the time, of course he was not thinking about how he would deal with that second floor if he developed bad knees or hips. And it likely never crossed his mind that he might have to accommodate his elderly parents in that house. The fact that the guest bedroom is upstairs makes that all the more awkward. Adjustments can always be made. Still.

A popular option for dealing with this situation is to have one of those stair lifts installed in the home. Doing this means that you do not have to give up your bedroom downstairs where you have had it for many years. Adding a stair lift makes the entire house accessible to elderly parents, making it feel more like a home than an elder care facility.

The stair lift also helps parents feel like they are not imposing on you by causing you to relocate your bedroom. This and a sense of empowerment makes dealing with the stairs a matter of first priority.

Declutter

The thing about clutter is that you don’t really see it as clutter when it is yours. And perhaps clutter is the wrong word in this case. Obviously, making it easy for elderly parents to move in involves picking up the clutter. What is not so obvious is the need to create space.

Creating space might involve getting rid of some of the furniture in the middle of the floor. The coffee table might have to go, especially if your parents are using a mobility device like a wheelchair or walker. You will want to create as much space as possible by pushing the furniture out to the edges of the room as opposed to them occupying space in the middle.

You will also want to rethink throw rugs. While adding character and visual interest to the home, they can also be tripping hazards, and may not play well with mobility devices. The idea of decluttering is to make a safe space for moving around for people who have a little more trouble doing so.

Senior-proof the Bathroom

Most home accidents occur in the bathroom. A few precautions can make a big difference. Beneficial to the entire family would be placing non-slip rugs in front of the sink and tub. Continue by adding grab-handles and weight-bearing rails. Include a shower chair. And install a walk-in tub or shower that does not require stepping over a ledge. Ugh.

The bathroom is typically one of the most expensive rooms in the house to remodel. But making it safe for seniors is relatively inexpensive. So, there is no need to put that step off for later.

Presumably, the reason one wants parents to move in is to eliminate emergency situations or make them easier to deal with quickly. So be sure to include a device that will serve as a dedicated call button in case they need to reach someone quickly.

Your house can be home for everyone including your elderly parents by dealing with the stairs, creating space for safer mobility, and senior-proofing the bathroom to make the most dangerous room in the house that much safer for everyone.

And above all, it goes without saying that kindness rules, above all else!

What do you feel?

Do you live with your parents?

How have you made them feel at home?

Of all the lessons I've learned through my years of caregiving, the most important is to keep the love connection going. Just tell them that you love them again and again and again. You will never say it too much, ever. How to Prepare Your House for Taking in Elderly Parents #eldercare #caregiving #parenting #relationships

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Reema Dsouza
    March 24, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    That’s true! It is important to ensure that everyone is made comfortable in such scenarios. This post is really helpful for people in such situations.

  • Reply
    Angel Stew & Devil's Brew
    March 24, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    What a great post, Vidya. My parents lived in their own home until their deaths but their home was on my lit’l sister’s property and fairly close to her home so she could be there for them. My lit’l sister was the caregiver. She did it amazingly well and I cannot thank her enough.

  • Reply
    Shilpa Gupte
    March 25, 2018 at 5:29 am

    This is such a helpful post for people who have the elderly staying with them.
    Little things matter a lot. Like the grab handles in the bathroom, doing away with centre tables and rugs. You never know what can cause an accident!

  • Reply
    Birgit
    March 26, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    I started crying when reading this which tells me how much I miss my mom. I bought a duplex with my mom in mind and, in fact, she came with me since she knew what to look for in a home. Even though she walked with a cane she was ok with the stairs and was so happy in her apartment. She told me how much she felt safe and happy. I was happy to help her since she had such a difficult life and a rough 10 years since losing her husband, my dad, losing our home that she built and moving 3 times until she moved in with me. She also took care of her father when her mom died…he came over from Austria. She helped me because she wanted to pay rent and I had her near me. I could go upstairs, when I had a rough day, and she always would have time for me and a listening ear. I miss her so much😢. When she developed dementia, vascular dementia, it was extremely tough not only because she was strong minded, smoked and argued but because I was watching my mom fade before my eyes. My hubby and I took away rugs , made sure the stove could not be turned on and made sure she took her medicine correctly. When it came time that we needed her to be cared for in a long term care facility, I had to keep reminding myself what my mom told me…”I never want to be a burden and if I ever lose my mental faculties, you will need to place in An old age home”. We had many talks and I had to remind myself that this was the right thing to do and it was. When she went in she was a mere 78lbs because she would not eat for us and often told us to shove that food….but she gained weight to 131lbs because she had balance. It was the toughest thing because I felt I was betraying her and my guilt was severe but logically, it was the best thing for her because we had her for 5 more years even though they were sad.

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      March 26, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      Hugs, Birgit. So many things will remind you of her, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. Something you read, a whiff of a fragrance, something you eat that she loved… Sigh. Can never get over the loss of Mom, can we? Yet we have to come to terms with it and accept it…and remember the good times. Love you. Tight hugs!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…But what about the beer #WednesdayWisdom

  • Reply
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes
    March 27, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    My parents are still living in India in their apartment but in time, I’m sure we’re going to have to think about options. Both my sister and I are in different countries and at this stage, my parents don’t want to move. They have previously thought about old age homes so that might be the option and hopefully, these facilities will be available

  • Reply
    independent living centre
    April 6, 2018 at 3:18 am

    I think you need to start fall proofing first your house. elders are really prone to falling.

  • Reply
    Pamela
    July 7, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    My husband and I are thinking about relocating, but it will take us to an area that has severe weather during the winter. It didn’t even cross my mind that we should purchase a generator; I had no idea that the power could go out during the winter. It is important that our family stays warm during potential storms.

  • Reply
    John Lewis
    July 29, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing this great information with our elderly parents. A stair lift provides a great way to maintain our elderly parent’s freedom and independence. When it comes to caregiving any extra help is a bonus. I love that there is so much more available now than ever before. Thanks for sharing this. have a good day.

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