During the holidays and winter months, you have a rare opportunity to help your aging parents. When you visit, you can survey their home to determine if it already meets the criteria for safely aging in place, the preferred method of living for the elderly.
By gauging what it would take to transition the home to one suitable for aging in place, you can make the needed changes sooner. When you visit your family, you might find that they should not age in place but instead either move in with you or into another space that can better meet their changing needs.
Evaluating the Current Living Space/Situation
Evaluating a living space is much easier than it sounds. The essential idea should be to ensure everything remains simple to use and that you reduce the number of stairs to climb and parcels to carry. The overall goals include:
A. Make the main living area on the first floor
B. Minimize use of stairs or steps
C. Widen hallways and doors to make it simple to navigate
D. Update the lighting
E. Add safety features in bathrooms, laundry room and stairwells
Set up a primary bedroom suite on the first floor so the older person does not need to climb the stairs to go to bed. This also makes things simpler for them if their mobility should change in the future. They will have automatic access to everything they need on the first floor.
Widening hallways takes a bit more work than widening doorways, but the doorways might be the only thing needed if existing hallways are already wide enough. The typical hallway measures 36 inches in width. Doorways can measure as small as 24 inches in width, so you may only need to widen them.
In bathrooms, add grab bars, a low threshold shower, and switch out the hardware on the sinks and bathtub for lever systems. The lever design makes it simpler for an older person to turn on and off a faucet and requires less hand strength.
If you choose your home as the solution, what space can you convert? Will you need to relocate a child from their room, so your parents can have a first-floor space?
Focus on Your Aging Parent
After spending some holiday time with your parents, you might determine the best solution is for them to live with you. That means selling their home or leasing it out and making the needed changes to the design of your own home. Before you decide, talk to your parents and ask what they prefer. Understand that although they may not be able to do everything alone any longer, they still might struggle with this transition and would like to give input.
Your Home Space
If you choose your home as the solution, what space can you convert? Will you need to relocate a child from their room, so your parents can have a first-floor space? Will your parents bring a pet? Considering these questions before you visit can help you prepare for the conversation. Remember that how you handle things will set the tone for your own children and how they will handle it when you age to the point of your parents now.
Next in Our Blog
Visit us again soon to read our upcoming blogs on constructing in-law suites and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), the modern terms for a guest house. Either option can provide a solution to give your parents privacy while remaining close enough to help them.
We are certified aging in place specialists helping families throughout the East Cobb area create a home that will meet your changing needs and help to ensure you can continue living in your home today, tomorrow and well into the future. Contact us today to get started.
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