Aging in place is the desired goal for many older adults. The phrase, aging in place, refers to a senior remaining in their preferred residence for as long as possible.
Adult children can help aging parents stay safe in their home by providing the necessary in-home care and by making modifications to their environment as their health status changes.
Common Health Problems that Require Home ModificationsA change in health can sometimes necessitate a home modification. A few conditions that might require a senior’s environment to be adapted for aging in place home care include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Vision Problems
- Hearing Loss
Help Older Adults with Age in Place Home DesignIn-home safety modifications that may help a senior age in place while in private home care include:
- Updated Lighting. One of the first physical signs of aging is often vision loss. You can help your aging parent stay safe at home by installing brighter lighting by doorways, steps and hallways. This modification often reduces the risk for falls among older adults.
- Make their home accessible. As health conditions progress, a senior may reach the point where they need an assistive device for walking. Most devices make navigating stairs difficult or impossible. To help your senior loved one age in place, talk with a contractor about building a ramp to replace stairs to the front door and widening interior doorways. Handrails are also a must.
- Renovate the bathroom. This is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house for older adults. According to the National Institute on Aging, more than one in three seniors over age 65 falls each year. 80% of these falls happen in the bathroom. Floors can be slippery and it can be difficult to get in and out of the bathtub safely. To prevent injuries, work with a contractor to build a walk-in shower with grab bars. You might also talk with a medical supply company about adding a seat to the shower.
When Aging at Home Might Not Be the Best OptionIt’s important to keep in mind, however, that aging in place at home isn’t always the safest solution. Instead, a move to an independent living community or multi-level retirement community while a parent is still independent might be the better choice. Tasks such as home repairs and lawn maintenance are taken care of and residents have the opportunity to socialize with people their own age.
If a senior moves into an independent living community today, he or she can transition to an assisted living apartment when more care is needed. Most communities also have options for Alzheimer’s care, if that becomes necessary down the road.
Working with an older loved one to make informed choices and to help them plan for life’s transitions is the best way to ensure they stay safe, happy and healthy for years to come.