How to Prepare for a Senior Moving Into Your Home
Getting Your Home Ready for a Senior
When it is time to move an aging relative into your home, safety should be your main concern. However, you also have to learn to respect that part of your home is now their space, and that means things might have to change. From creating a step-free entryway to figuring out where to store the stuff they can’t leave behind, there’s a lot of work to do before they make the move. Here are a few tips to get your home ready for its new occupant.
Carve Out a Space Just for Them
A lack of privacy is one reason that some seniors push back against moving in with adult children or grandchildren. After all, they have lived in their own home and taken care of themselves for many years, and suddenly they are no longer in a position to do so. With this in mind, make sure to give your senior loved one a space of their own. This is especially important if there are young children in the home. As much as grandparents love the little ones, those bouncing balls of energy can be a little hard to handle. Having a spot to retreat — one that everyone in the family knows to respect — will help create harmony within the home.
Another significant benefit of giving a senior their own room or in-law suite is that they can surround themselves with familiar items. Assisted living center Navita Residences explains that having personal items will ease the transition. If your senior has more “must-have” items than their space can safely accommodate, don’t stress them out by forcing them to part with their heirloom furniture, vehicle, or other reminders of the past. Plan to keep these objects close. If you do not already have a garage, consider installing a steel building on site, which is a durable and cost-effective way to keep their keepsakes close at hand.
Enhance the Safety of Your Home with Senior-Friendly Features
Even if they have their own space, your senior will need to navigate throughout your home, and this may require a few modifications. The AARP suggests having a specialist, such as a physical therapist or geriatric care manager, evaluate the property to make recommendations on things you can do to keep your loved one safe.
A few common home remodeling projects for seniors include adding support (grab) bars in the bathroom and installing an adjustable toilet seat. An induction stove and easy-to-grasp handles on the cabinets will go a long way toward increasing the safety and usability of the kitchen. Allstate also recommends adding a ramp to the main entrance, which will accommodate a wheelchair and keep your loved one from having to fight stairs. Clutter is also a concern, so make sure the kids keep the chaos contained to their bedroom or playroom, and eliminate low-lying obstacles such as cords and throw rugs.
Help Them Remain as Independent as Their Health Allows
Even if health concerns are what brought them to you, there are still ways you can help your senior family member hold on to at least some of their independence. Start by helping them maintain an active social life to stave off social isolation. You should also encourage them to exercise, read, and play mentally stimulating games.
If your senior housemate is still capable of driving, have their vehicle inspected and talk to them about staying home at night or during inclement weather. However, if you suspect physical or cognitive impairments, contact an occupational therapy driving rehabilitation specialist for a thorough evaluation of their driving abilities.
Remember, while it may be difficult for you to adjust to having someone new in your home, it is exponentially so for your senior who probably lived alone for much longer than you’ve been alive. By giving them their own space, making things safe, and allowing for some independence, you and your senior will be happier, healthier, and live more harmoniously together.
Paul Denikin is passionate about sharing his experiences working on DIY projects to benefit people with special needs children. His initial efforts were all motivated by the desire to make his home more accessible for her.