It can be worrying to see your elderly parents becoming less mobile as they age. Understandably, you may worry about them losing their independence and needing help at home, or having to move into a nursing home.
The good news is that in many cases a few simple modifications can make a home senior-friendly, enabling your parents to stay living independently in their own home.
Here we look at some ways to make a home safer and more comfortable for seniors.
1. Make the Stairs Safe
For seniors that live in a home with two or more levels, the stairs can be a challenge as they get older. There is a real danger of being injured by falling on the stairs. This is one area of the home that needs to be safety-proofed.
An inexpensive modification to make the stairs safe for older people is to install a stairlift. Using a stairlift to move up and down the staircase is an effective way to prevent falls. There are two main types; straight stairlifts for straight stairs and curved stairlifts for stairs with curves or turns.
In addition to brand new stairlifts, some suppliers offer reconditioned models, which tend to be cheaper and can be a good choice for seniors with limited savings. Stairlift rental is also an option for those who need the stairlift for a relatively short period of time. Generally speaking, though, if you intend to rent for longer than a year it can be more cost-effective to buy it outright.
2. Improve Access Ways
Accessibility is key for seniors that are less mobile and may use a walking aid to move around the home. Surfaces, both inside and outside the property, need to be level. Uneven flooring or paving can cause trips and should be either repaired or replaced.
If there is a step to an entryway, a ramp could be fitted to make it accessible for a wheelchair user. Alternatively, a handrail or grab bar could be installed to provide support for someone who has difficulty lifting their feet when walking.
Another modification that can improve access is to widen the doorways. This can be especially useful for seniors that are likely to use a wheelchair or walking frame in the future.
3. Renovate the Kitchen
A senior-friendly kitchen is one where everything – appliances, countertops, shelves, and cabinets – is within easy reach, so there is no need for someone to bend or stretch. It may be necessary to renovate a kitchen entirely to make it safe and suitable for an elderly resident.
Appliances such as ovens should have easy-to-use controls, such as single touch buttons so that they can be operated by someone with arthritis in their hands.
If a full kitchen renovation is not needed, it is still advisable to declutter the kitchen. Remove any items that are not used and place any frequently used items within easy reach.
4. Update the Bathroom
Unless your parents need a walk-in bathtub, a full bathroom refurb may not be needed. There are some simple updates that can be made in a bathroom without the need for remodeling.
Traditional twisting faucets can be hard to grip for someone with arthritic hands, so you could upgrade them to lever-operated or touchless faucets.
To help prevent slips or falls, make sure there is non-slip flooring and replace it if necessary. Installing a shower seat and grab bars are other modifications that can make a bathroom more senior-friendly.
5. Make the Lighting Better
Updating the lighting to make all areas as bright as possible is another modification that can make seniors safer at home. Choose LED bulbs with the maximum brightness to improve visibility throughout the home. Consider getting new light fittings installed in areas that are particularly dark, such as hallways or bedroom closets.
Remember to make sure there is adequate security lighting outside the property to ensure there is clear access to the main entrance. Automated lights that have motion sensors and are triggered by movement are a good addition to increase the safety of an elderly-friendly home.
To sum up, there are a number of modifications that can make a home safer for seniors and enable them to live independently in their later years. By making the stairs safe, improving accessibility and illumination, and updating the kitchen and bathroom, you can help prevent accidents and provide a comfortable and safe living space for your elderly parents.