If you have parents aging into their golden years, you want the best for them. In many cases, this doesn’t involve moving them into an assisted living facility just yet, but you want to be sure they are as safe as possible while living in their own home. You can’t always be there to safeguard them, but ensuring that their home is as safe as possible will preserve your peace of mind and their sense of independence.
1. Declutter, Organize, and Store
While your parents may love to display their valued possessions, this can lead to cluttered surfaces that pose a hazard to their safety. One way to mitigate that danger is to work with them on a clean sweep redesign of their space. First, involving them helps them to maintain a sense of control of their space and provides an opportunity for them to choose how the projects progress. Store or curate collections with care, clean surface areas, donate or throw away items no longer useful, and design a home concept that is faithful to your parents’ personalities. You may also consider helping them downsize to a smaller home.
2. Grab Bars in the Bathrooms
You can disguise grab bars as towel bars in powder rooms and guest bathrooms. But they provide security in case of a dizzy spell or leverage when sitting or standing. You can also place one in the shower or tub enclosure. This addition will be a major stability aid should your parent feel unsteady while bathing.
3. Other Bathroom Refits
If your parents’ home has tub and shower combinations, one major project that nevertheless provides added safety and security is replacing these with walk-in showers. Consider a built-in shower seat or a moveable bathing stool, which can make the most of limited stamina and mobility.
4. Multi-Level Workspaces
Does one of your parents love to garden? Do they still tinker around in the workshop or make enough food to feed an army and their dogs? While many parents are known for their fierce independence, age comes with some limitations. You can help them maintain their passions by providing some workspaces in which they can spread out. In the kitchen or workshop, counter space that can be accessed while seated will make the most of their energy. In the garden, elevated planting trays on casters or permanent planters, potting benches with multiple levels for seated or upright gardening, and elevated tool storage will keep Mom or Dad out in the fresh air for another decade.
5. Doormats and Accent Rugs Are Out
While they may look lovely, accent rugs and welcome mats present a huge tripping hazard to your parents. Do away with them. Furniture on hardwood floors can be secured with special adhesive pads designed to protect the wood while keeping the furniture in place.
6. Keep Stuff In Easy Reach
In the most-used rooms that hold everyday items, such as the kitchen or the garage, work with your parents to organize their possessions. Pots and pans, spices and baking goods, and the most utilized implements should all be stored in the easiest to reach space. Reserve the top shelves of cupboards for the holiday turkey platter or Great Aunt Edith’s wedding china. The key is to minimize strenuous bending or reaching and preclude the need to climb a step ladder if possible.
There are quite a few more intensive renovations you can conduct. However, these easy fixes make a great first step to helping your parents maintain their independence. They can also serve to reaffirm your mutual bonds because they involve collective input. Keeping your parents safe need not make them feel they’ve lost their ability to care for themselves.