The ability to age in place safely is often tied to the building your loved one is trying to stay in. Because the challenges of aging can come on slowly, preventing injuries such as falls will be easier if physical barriers are considered before your loved one needs help working around them.
Can your loved one
- bathe or shower
- fix a meal
- sleep comfortably
- do laundry
without having to climb stairs once they are in the house? If not, they are at risk of a serious lifestyle disruption in the event of an illness or injury. One serious fall or a need for surgery could mean that your loved one cannot shower without getting help up and down the stairs.
If your loved one absolutely refuses to consider moving, you may find yourself in a position where they cannot safely go home. In such circumstances, the risks to your loved ones financial security should also be considered. Selling because you must relocate is never the way to get the best deal. Do your best to encourage them to make this decision while they are still able to control it.
Even a temporary injury or recovery can be challenging if doorways are too small to allow access to the bathroom and kitchen. Working from a wheelchair can be nearly impossible if doorways are too narrow or cabinets are too close to the ground.
Encourage your loved one to bring in a contractor to get quotes on the costs of updating these factors. Moving may quickly become a cheaper option and much less disruption.
How hard would it be for your loved one to get under counter lights put up in the kitchen? Limited mobility combined with limited vision can mean some nasty cuts while preparing food, and these lights can also serve as a nightlight.
Such a change may seem simple, but the difference between aging in place and requiring regular care in a very different setting can often be one accident.
Where does your loved one do laundry? A bad tumble with the laundry basket can radically change the life of just about anyone, but someone older has a much bigger risk of breaking something if they fall with a laundry basket.
This can be an ideal starting point for a conversation about the coming change. You can either push your loved one to accept help with housework once or twice a week and bring in a caregiver, or you can push them to move. Both of these pushes can be unpopular, but a bit of prep work can save your loved one a lot of misery and pain.
Shoveling snow, cleaning gutters, mowing and trimming the lawn and painting are just a few of the exterior tasks that your loved one may have managed well on their own. However, these tasks could lead to serious injury in an older person.
If your mom has always taken care of the indoor projects, moving the washer and dryer to the main floor can protect her health. If your dad has always worked on outside projects, vinyl siding, gutter protection, and a mowing service can make a huge difference in his future well-being.
The key to making changes, either by completely moving house or by altering the house they live in, is to do it before circumstances force the issue. If your folks are planning on staying in the house for as long as possible, they will either have to alter the house, accept paid help, or both. For many seniors, the selling price of their home is part of their expected income. Do not allow your loved one to be forced into a sale after an injury or illness. Whether you are managing an estate in London or looking for retirement villages in Sydney, keep these things in mind when looking at senior care option.