Getting old is an inevitable part of life, but that fact doesn’t make the process any easier. If you have a senior parent who lives alone, you naturally may have had some concerns about their welfare, particularly if they have made some comments to you regarding loneliness, feeling vulnerable, or if they have recently had a fall. While moving your parent into an elderly care home might be an option, if they are adamant that they want to remain in their home you need to respect their wishes. However, there are things that you can do to upgrade their property that will make it a safer living space for them, and giving you peace of mind. Below are some suggestions on the home improvements you can make for seniors that could be worth exploring.
A good place to start if you want to make any home feel more secure is looking at the security systems in place. Alarms work well, but you might want to consider installing a modern smart security system at your parent’s house for more effective protection. You might have to show them how to use the app that links to it, but through that, they should be able to see who is at the door before they answer, and can even communicate with that person via the app if they choose to do so. Smart security systems are on all the time as well, so there is no need to remember to set alarm codes, etc. They will be able to tell the difference between your parent’s usual routine and habits in the house, and will only go off when they detect something unusual. You can find out more about the best smart security systems and how they work here.
Once you have home security covered, you can start looking at how to make the property more accessible for your senior parent. If they are beginning to find it difficult to go up and down the stairs, or have recently had a fall that has resulted in them being anxious about using the staircase, you should look into getting a stairlift. These are very common modifications made in properties for the elderly and wheelchair users alike, making it possible for them to access the upper floors of their homes with ease. Narrow staircases might not be able to accommodate a stairlift, in which case you might want to explore other options like the through-floor lift, or turning the ground floor into their main living area with a bedroom and bathroom that they can use.
If your parents have a yard on their property, you might want to consider getting automatic sliding doors fitted, particularly if they are wheelchair users or struggle to open doors due to issues with things such as arthritis. The automatic doors will allow them to get in and out of their backyard with ease and can be controlled remotely with a handicap automatic door opener so there is no issue of security. If they have pets, they can also get a sensor put on their collars so that the cat or dog can get into and out easily as well. Not only are automatic doors a practical modification to homes for the elderly and disabled, but they are a very stylish feature to have as well.
Walk-in Showers and Bathtubs
Everyone needs to have regular washes as part of their hygiene routine, but if your senior parent does struggle with mobility or is frightened about slipping and falling when they are in the shower or bathtub, this can be a reason why they might start avoiding it. To make it easier for them to enjoy regular showers and baths, you should look into having walk-in ones put in. Walk-in showers are great and there will be plenty of room for a shower seat if this makes them feel safer. You can also put support bars on the walls so they have something to hold on to and reduce the chance of a fall in the shower. Walk-in bathtubs are great as they don’t have to lower themselves in or pull themselves back out again, which is something that they might find more difficult to do in their golden years.
Another way you can create a more comfortable and safe living space for your senior parent is by considering the lighting in their house. If their eyesight is going, having lighting that is bright enough for them to see what they are doing is essential. LED lights are very powerful, but they are also stylish and eco-friendly, too. These will be perfect in places such as the hallway and going up the stairs so that they can see where they are stepping, in the kitchen when preparing meals, and in the bathroom, too. However, having LED lights throughout the house might be worthwhile so that everything is uniform and they have plenty of light in every room.
Support bars are useful in the bathroom, but can also be necessary for other areas of the house as well. You should certainly have these in place if steps are leading into the property either at the front of the house or the back or have a railing installed. These will be particularly useful for rainy days when the steps are wet, or icy during winter. The kitchen is another room where these might be useful, or if their property has a basement with steep stairs down into it.
If your parent uses a wheelchair then you will need to have wheelchair ramps to allow them to get in and out of their home with ease. You can have portable ramps made if they aren’t keen on having a permanent one fixed to their property, or you can choose to have a cement one made instead. Just make sure that you put salt on the ramp in icy weather if it is a bit steep so they don’t lose control of their wheelchair going down it.
If your senior parent wants to remain on their property but you are concerned about their safety, consider the suggestions above and see how you can make it a comfortable and secure living space for them to enjoy.