Are you considering moving an aging parent in with you, or have you already decided to do so? Home care can be an excellent option for seniors who are starting to need a little extra help taking care of day-to-day tasks. If your elderly parent has health or mobility issues, or if living alone might be putting their safety at risk, moving your aging parents in with you could be the best solution for everyone.
It's important to do some thinking and planning before you move your senior parent into your house. Home caregiving is a big change, and it will impact your spouse's and children's lives as well as your own. A little forethought can help you make your house as safe as possible for your parent, while keeping everyone else as comfortable and happy as possible. Here are seven things to consider doing before you bring your parent to live with you.
7 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Your Aging Parents
1. Prepare a room for your parent on the first floor, if possible.
It's safest and easiest for seniors to live on the first floor whenever possible. Even if your parent can handle stairs now, that might change in the next few years. If you have a one-story house, you're all set. If not, see if you can clear out a room on the first floor for your parent. No bedrooms on the first floor? Consider converting a den or study into a bedroom.
2. Consider putting in a ramp or automatic stair lift.
Stairs can be difficult or dangerous for the elderly. If your parent uses a wheelchair or walker, or if they're starting to have more trouble walking than they used to, it's a good idea to take some precautions when it comes to stairs.
If you have a two-story house, consider putting in an automatic stair lift so the upper floor is accessible to your parent. A stair lift is a seat that can lift someone safely up or down a flight of stairs.
Ramps can also be a good option, especially for outdoor stairs. If, for example, you need to climb stairs to get up to your front door, a ramp will make that area accessible and safe for your wheelchair-bound parent.
3. Make sure the bathroom is safe and practical for seniors
Bathrooms can present a number of falling hazards for seniors, so make sure yours is safe and accessible. Install grab bars beside the toilet and in the shower, and put non-slip mats on the floor and in the tub. Make sure that both the doorway and the bathroom itself are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair or a walker, if your parent uses one.
It's ideal to have a bathroom for your parent on the first floor. If your only bathroom is on the second floor, putting in a stair lift may be the best solution.
4. Look for safety hazards.
Older adults are at increased risk of tripping, falling, or otherwise injuring themselves, especially if they have any kind of disability. Take some steps to keep your parent safe ahead of time by anticipating any potential safety hazards and "elder-proofing" your house.
For instance, you can make your floors safer by removing rugs or putting anti-slip mats underneath them. Make sure all your rooms and hallways are brightly lit — dim areas can be a tripping hazard. If your parent doesn't see well, or if they're unsteady on their feet, make sure your floors are always clear. Talk to your kids to make sure they understand not to leave anything on the floor.
Take a look at your furniture, too. If you have any chairs or tables that are fragile or easy to knock over, consider replacing them with something sturdier. If your furniture or countertops have hard edges or sharp corners, you can get bumpers to cover them up.
5. A baby monitor or an intercom system will help with communication.
If your parent needs frequent attention or help, the last thing you want is to not hear them when they call you. Make sure your parent can always reach you by installing a home intercom system. You can also just set up a simple baby monitor. Before your parent moves in, ask them what kind of communication system they'd like to use, and base your decision on their preferences — they may not be comfortable using a baby monitor, for example.
6. Consider installing door and window sensors.
If your parent has Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia, they may get confused and try to wander away. Keep them safe by installing a home security system that lets you know whenever someone opens a door or a window. For similar reasons, you may also want to consider installing a home video surveillance system.
7. Hire a professional home caregiver.
Providing home care for an aging parent can be physically and emotionally exhausting. If you're not used to home caregiving, you might find yourself overwhelmed by your parent's needs. That can lead to burnout and resentment, which doesn't make for a healthy relationship or home environment.
The simplest solution is to hire a professional home caregiver to help you out. This takes some of the emotional and practical burden off you. The home caregiver will help keep your house in order and make sure your parent is receiving everything they need, which saves you time and gives you peace of mind. If you think you might be interested in hiring a home caregiver, it's smart to contact caregiving services from a reputable home care agency before your parent even moves in, so you're well prepared.
Living with an aging parent isn't always easy. However, it might be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever have. Many people love having the opportunity to take good care of the people who raised them, and if you have children of your own, they'll have a priceless opportunity to get to know their grandparent. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare to move your parent in, and the experience will be safer and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Interested in hiring a professional home caregiver in the San Francisco Bay Area? We have locations throughout California and all of our home caregivers receive the best training in the industry. Get in touch with us at Alegre Home Care!