Ten home modifications to accommodate elderly parents

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Did you know that the percentage of senior citizens above 65 years in San Antonio rose from 11% in 2010 to more than 14% in 2020? Most of you living in this city might be witnessing your parents aging. So, when the time comes to reciprocate the care and love your parents gave you before you moved out, ensuring their comfort and safety in your homes is paramount. 

As they age, their needs evolve, necessitating specific home modifications. Whether they are moving in with you or visit often, it’s essential to adapt your homes to meet their needs. This article highlights ten key home upgrades to make your home elderly-friendly, focusing on practicality and safety.

1. Stair Safety: Installing Handrails and Chair Lifts

Stairs can be challenging and dangerous for older adults. Hence, handrails on both sides of the staircase are a must, providing support and stability. The rails should be sturdy and easy to grip. For homes with multiple levels, consider installing a chair lift. This is particularly beneficial for those with mobility issues, ensuring they can safely and effortlessly access different floors of the house. Ensure that the stairways are well-lit and free of any obstacles.

2. Bathroom Remodeling: Prioritizing Safety in Shower Conversions

The bathroom demands immediate attention when it comes to elderly care. First, ensure your plumbing isn’t faulty, and the showerheads are mold-resistant. This check is especially important in cities like San Antonio, where summers are humid and extremely hot. Slippery surfaces and traditional bathtubs can pose significant risks. Installing walk-in showers with no or low thresholds helps eliminate the danger of stepping over high tub walls. Adding grab bars in the shower and near the toilet provides additional support and balance. 

Please don’t DIY such home improvements and hire experts experienced in shower conversions in San Antonio.

Moreover, non-slip mats and flooring are crucial to prevent falls. For added safety, consider installing a shower seat and a handheld showerhead, making the showering experience both safe and comfortable.

3. Lighting Enhancements: Brightening Up Spaces

Adequate lighting is vital for older people, especially for those with diminishing eyesight. Increase the wattage of bulbs in lamps and fixtures to brighten up the home. Pay special attention to areas like hallways, staircases, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Consider installing automatic night lights in these areas to guide the way in the dark, preventing trips and falls. You can also add motion sensor lights for added convenience and safety.

4. Flooring Upgrades: Reducing Slip Hazards

Flooring should provide a safe walking surface. Glossy tiles or polished wood can be slippery, posing a fall risk. Replacing them with textured vinyl or rubber flooring can provide a better grip. Ensure that all rugs and carpets are securely anchored to the floor. Alternatively, you can also remove them to reduce tripping hazards. Keep the floor clutter-free, ensuring clear pathways for easy navigation.

5. Accessible Kitchen Modifications

The kitchen needs to be accessible and functional. Lower the height of countertops and cabinets to make them easily reachable. Install pull-out shelves and drawers for easy access to kitchen items. Appliances should be at a convenient height, eliminating the need to reach up or bend down. Consider touchless faucets and easy-to-use handles for drawers and cabinets. Ensure there is enough space for free movement, especially if your parents use a walker or wheelchair.

6. Bedroom Adjustments: Comfort and Accessibility

The bedroom should be a sanctuary of comfort and ease for elderly parents. Opt for an adjustable bed that allows for easy changing of sleeping positions and makes getting in and out of bed less strenuous. Ample space around the bed is necessary for unrestricted movement. Replace knobs with easy-to-handle levers on drawers and wardrobes. It would be best to revamp the closets and install sliding doors for effortless access. Moreover, storage should be within easy reach to avoid strain. Ensure the room is well-lit, with switches accessible from the bed.

7. Doorway Widening: Facilitating Movement

For elderly parents using mobility aids, navigating through standard doorways can be a challenge. Widening doorways is a key modification. The ideal width for wheelchair or walker access is at least 32 inches. Replace traditional doorknobs with lever-style handles that are easier for arthritic hands to operate. Pocket doors or sliding doors can also be excellent alternatives to traditional swinging doors, as they require less space and are easier to open and close.

8. Emergency Response Systems: Ensuring Safety

Safety is a top priority when accommodating elderly parents. Install emergency response systems that can be activated in case of falls or medical emergencies. Place call buttons in strategic locations like the bedroom, bathroom, and living area. These systems should be simple to use and within easy reach. Additionally, consider a wearable emergency alert system for your parents, providing them with the freedom to move around the house with the assurance that help is just the press of a button away.

9. Outdoor Modifications: Safe Access to Nature

Access to the outdoors is vital for the well-being of elderly parents. Ensure safe and easy access to outdoor spaces by installing ramps for steps and ensuring all pathways are flat and free of obstacles. Pathways should be well-lit, and surfaces should be non-slip. Handrails along walkways and steps provide additional support. Consider a comfortable, easily accessible seating area in the garden where they can enjoy the outdoors safely.

10. Home Automation and Smart Technology

Embrace smart home technology for enhanced convenience and safety. Automated systems for lighting, heating, and cooling can be controlled remotely, reducing the need for physical exertion. Voice-activated devices can assist in tasks like switching off lights or calling for help. Smart security systems with cameras and motion sensors provide peace of mind for both you and your elderly parents, ensuring their safety within the home.

Conclusion: Making them feel at home!

Adapting our homes to accommodate elderly parents is a crucial step in ensuring their safety, comfort, and independence while being a sign of utmost love and respect. By focusing on key areas like the bathroom, stairs, lighting, flooring, kitchen, hallway, and every other space they might use, we can create a home that is not only functional but also safe for our loved ones. These modifications go a long way in showing our appreciation and care for our parents in their golden years, making our homes a place of warmth, comfort, and security.

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