More and more Americans are moving their senior parents into their homes once they become incapable of living on their own. When you consider that there are almost 47 million seniors in the U.S., this notion is not uncommon. For a lot of people, this is an expected choice — something that they’ve planned on for years, or it’s perhaps a family tradition. However, for many of us, this is a new concept and something that we aren’t necessarily familiar with. Multi-generational households are the norm across the world, but they’ve been a bit less common in the U.S., historically speaking. With that being said, there are many benefits to moving your elderly parents into your home. For one thing, it can cut down on the costs associated with eldercare. You can either care for your parents yourself or hire a professional aid to visit — and either option is less expensive than sending your parents to an assisted living facility or a retirement community. For that matter, many people feel more secure knowing that they’re in charge of their parents’ care in a direct way. There are many risks that come with entrusting your parents — who may not be able to defend or speak up for themselves — to others.
But at times, a parent’s decline can be more rapid than expected. If you aren’t prepared to move your parent or parents in, your home probably isn’t ready either. It’s usually a good idea to make certain renovations that will ensure that your home is more senior-friendly. Not only is this usually still less expensive than working with a facility or community — it will allow you to make the kinds of specific changes that individualize a home for your parents’ well-being. With that being said, it can be difficult to get that process started and to know what kinds of renovations you should make first. Let’s look into the best types of renovations for those moving their parents into their home.
1. Chair Lifts Or Elevators
Now, an elevator may seem a little drastic — but it’s an option. And if it doesn’t work for you, that’s why chair lifts exist! Of course, these won’t apply if you’re living in a single-level home. But for those living in multi-level houses, it’s important for seniors to have a way to get up and down the stairs, which is one of the most difficult struggles for many of them. Right now, about 58% of homeowners report planning to spend money on improving their home in this year, and 80% of them have upcoming plans for specific projects; while a chair lift or elevator looks like an intensive project, if you incorporate it into your plans and budget for it, you’d be surprised by how easy it can be. As about 75% of Americans experience foot issues of some kind at one point or another, an addition that helps with mobility is hugely important.
2. Wheelchair Ramps
This is another addition that pertains to a specific problem — however, it can affect single-level and multi-level homes. A dip of any kind in your home’s layout, like porch steps or a step down from one room to the other, can hugely affect a wheelchair-bound senior’s ability to move around and enjoy their home. Indeed, it can also make it hard for you to care for them. Right now, over 65 million people care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend; usually, this takes up about 20 hours per week of their time. Essentially, you’ll be treating this as something of a job, if you don’t employ an aid. It will be easier for you if your parent is able to move easily in their wheelchair. A wheelchair ramp will change their ability to do so dramatically.
3. Slip-Proof Flooring
Think about how easy it is for you to slip on your hardwood floor — or linoleum or tile, for that matter. This will only become easier for seniors. They often trip and fall and hurt themselves — and it’s harder to recover from a fall when you’re older. Many seniors also have health problems compounded by more serious, long-term illnesses like Alzheimer’s, a disease that 5.7 million Americans live with now, and 14 million will suffer from by 2050. If you want to prevent your parent from falling, the best way to do it is by replacing your floors with slip-resistant flooring. Now, you don’t have to do this everywhere — obviously, carpeted flooring can stay. Nor do you necessarily have to replace the non-slip-resistant flooring in every room. If some rooms aren’t going to be often visited by your parent, you may want to skip them, or at least put them off. Prioritize the most important rooms first.
4. Grab Bars In The Bathroom
It’s even easier for seniors to slip or struggle in the bathroom. Many struggle with lowering themselves onto the toilet, even, or staying upright in the shower. Yet obviously, everyone will want their privacy and dignity when in the bathroom. Therefore, it’s important to install grab bars around the shower or toilet. You’ll feel more comfortable about letting your parent take care of themselves, and they’ll be able to maintain some level of independence, which is crucial to their mental health. Don’t forget that it’s not enough to just care for someone physically — they have mental and emotional needs as well.
You’re doing the right thing by caring for your parent or parents. But nonetheless, you should make sure that you’re smart about the renovations you make. Ideally, they will make your life a lot easier!