Adjusting the Household – Home Changes That Make Life Easier for Elderly Parents

May 1, 2018

The Vintage Home Conundrum

Nothing is more rewarding than keeping a home for many generations. Yet the joy of staying in your favored home for many decades does come with a few setbacks, namely the need to stay on top of maintenance, as all vintage houses tend to need work done over the years.

From structural repairs to renovating rooms, there’s a lot that can be done to maintain and improve an older property – it’s one of the reasons so many decide to remain at their home even as they get older

Yet as a home gets older, so too do the residents, and some changes need to be made to accommodate this. As things like mobility and vision begin to waver, making some adjustments around the home to make things safe is a must.

Plus, if elderly homeowners want to enjoy independence while remaining at their vintage home, it makes sense for adult children to do their part to help make things easier. These changes don’t even need to be that drastic, with even some minor adjustments making all the difference as the years go by.

Moreover, the best time to make these adjustments are when they aren’t vital to an elderly parent’s well being. Acting now rather than after an incident, such as a major surgery, ensures you are prepared for all possibilities in the future, which is certainly a position worth being in.

Do you have aging parents living in an older home and you want to make it safe for them in the future? Then consider trying out some of the following adjustments to their home:

Improving Accessibility

Older homes are known for being that bit more difficult to access. Whether it’s undersized exterior stairs or a lack of handrails at entrances, there are many ways to make a home of any age more accessible.

This is easier done the more space there is to work with at entrances, where implementing larger steps, new railings, or even a wheelchair ramp could be worth adding. In the case of a ramp, it doesn’t even need to be that large, with ADA recommending a minimum of 36” with a 1” grade per 12’.

This means a smaller ramp can be added without being too conspicuous, which may be a good idea for those looking to plan ahead. If you have an elderly parent already struggling with mobility, then a lager, more robust wheelchair ramp should be considered.

Indoors is often more difficult to adjust, especially when an older home isn’t as easy to renovate in certain areas. For instance, widening a narrow door or hallway is certainly possible but quite a difficult endeavor. Stairs could be widened if too narrow, although adding a stair lift could be a preferable option.

Revaluating High Traffic Rooms

The bathroom and kitchen are two of the most used rooms of any home. This doesn’t change with age, but the ability to interact with these rooms certainly does. So, it may be worth making some changes to these high traffic areas to benefit aging parents.

For example, there are many aspects of a bathroom that become more troublesome as you age and lack mobility. From sinks positioned to low to baths and showers that are difficult to enter and exit, wholesale changes may be necessary down the line.

Suitable adjustments to make depend entirely on the nature of the bathroom and the individual habits. For instance, installing a lipless shower can prevent tripping, while bathtubs with swing doors offer great accessibility for those struggling with mobility. Grab bars are another great option – consider what works best for now and what could be most helpful in the future.

Similarly, the kitchen has a host of hazardous designs that can be difficult for an elderly person. High cabinets are certainly a notable one, while simple things like a cluttered countertop can be quite the risk.

Think about lowering cabinets and even increasing storage capacity to help avoid clutter, and even consider reorganizing where everything goes to make things that bit easier. Round the corners that could cause significant impact damage if walked into, while things like an electric cooker with a flat stove can make all the difference.

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