Job 1 when moving your aging parent or loved one into your home — or helping them age in place in their own home — is making it safe. Take a look at the home from the perspective of a person who uses a wheelchair or is a fall risk.
You need a plan.
1.Call in a pro.
Start with a home assessment by an occupational therapist, physical therapist, geriatric care manager or other certified aging-in-place specialist to access the home and recommend modifications and remodeling projects that will make it easier and safer.
Adapted homes can be stylish, comfortable and safe for all ages. You may need:
- zero-threshold entryways
- wide doorways and halls
- offset door hinges to make room for a wheelchair, walker or two people walking side by side
- controls and switches that are reachable from a wheelchair or bed
- a waterproof seat in the shower
- a stair-climber
- a raised toilet seat
- a shower chair
- a frame-less walk-in shower with a sloped floor instead of a step-over threshold
- put textured no-slip strips in the bathtub and shower to lessen the chance of a fall.
3.Make simple fixes. Every year, 1 in 4 adults over age 65 take a fall. To lessen the chances:
- Remove throw rugs.
- Use rubber-backed bathmats.
- Move laundry facilities to the first floor.
- Remove wheels on chairs.
- Put nonskid treads on steps.
- Keep steps clear.
- Apply nonslip wax to floors.
- If wandering is a worry, add monitors and sensor alarms.
- Repair loose carpeting or raised areas of flooring.
- Move small and low furniture.
- Clear electric cords and clutter.
- Add a hall railing.
- Switch out standard doorknobs for lever handles.
- Add a raised toilet and grab bars.
- Remove locks from bedroom and bathroom doors so you can get in quickly, should your loved one fall.
- Put a railing on the hall wall.
- Swap out your recliner for one that raises and lowers — to make getting up easier.
4.Light the way. As we age, we need more light. Install:
- bright lights in hallways, closets, stairwells
- extra lamps — consider models that turn on and off with a touch
- outdoor motion sensor lights and path lights
5.Modify the kitchen. Put frequently used items on an easy-to-reach refrigerator shelf. Also: Consider using automatic devices to turn off the stove and oven or installing an induction cook-top — which turns off when a pot is removed from the burner. Hang a fire extinguisher within reach.
6.Check alarms. Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your loved one’s bedroom, and test existing alarms.
7.Stay connected. If your loved one is home alone:
- Check in with Skype or another video-chat app.
- Mount a motion-activated security camera in the home — with your loved one’s permission.