Home Updates to Consider When Welcoming an Aging Family Member

If an aging family member needs to move into your home, you’ll need to be ready for some changes in routine as well as in your physical home, itself. Many homes aren’t built with the safety or needs of a senior in mind, and if your family member has specific physical issues, like balance difficulties or mobility restrictions, then you may need to make some significant changes to get your home ready.

In many cases, updating your home to welcome in a senior isn’t that difficult as long as you plan out the updates ahead of time. If you’re handy with basic carpentry, many of these updates are changes that you can make yourself, and they can make a senior’s transition into your home smoother and easier.

Start with a Structure Assessment

Before you focus on specific renovations, take a moment to assess your home’s overall structural safety. If there are major issues that need to be addressed, it’s better to identify and take care of them now before additional family members move into the home. Major repairs or renovations may require your family to leave the home entirely or to move out of certain areas of the home, and this will be easier before you add a family member to the mix.

Start by scheduling a roofing inspection to make sure that your roof is in good condition and doesn’t need to be repaired or replaced. This is also a good time to focus on disaster proofing your home. Simple tasks, like investing in quality shutters and making sure that all of your fire extinguishers are working, can make your home safer for your entire family.

If major repairs do need to be made, schedule them right away. With the major work out of the way, you’ll be able to focus on smaller home updates that you’ll be able to make on your own.

Design for Mobility

One of the most important changes you can make to your home is to remove clutter and create clear walking spaces. Narrow paths through rooms, electrical cords, uneven flooring, and corners of rugs that curl upwards are all potential tripping hazards, and falls for seniors can be serious health risks.

To start, do a thorough clean-up and organization of your home. Adopting feng shui can help you to clear up additional space while also improving your home’s energy. While organizing and decluttering your entire home may be an overwhelming task, start by focusing on the rooms where people spend the most time, like the living room and the kitchen.

You can make it safer for a senior to move through your home by taping down rug edges, fixing loose floorboards, and ensuring there are clear, well-lit paths through every room. Installing handrails on both sides of stairwells can also help to prevent falls.

Create Safe, Inviting Spaces

You’ll want your family member to feel welcome and comfortable in your home, and some simple changes can benefit everyone in the house. For instance, seniors can enjoy physical health benefits through drumming, yoga, and other low-impact activities, and you can create a space that allows for that daily exercise. If your family member enjoys gardening, bird watching, or going for walks, you can modify your home so they’ll have spaces specifically for these activities. A window seat, area to do some indoor or outdoor gardening, or well-landscaped path for walking can all help your family member to feel right at home.

To give your family member a safe and easy way to spend time outdoors, consider turning your backyard into a summer oasis. You can add on a patio, create a screened-in porch, or just add some outdoor seating that everyone in the family can enjoy together. Don’t forget the importance of good landscaping, too. A lawn that is well-maintained and free of holes is easier and safer to walk on than an overgrown or uneven lawn.

Make Need-Based Improvements

In addition to the general improvements above, an aging family member may have specific needs that you’ll need to accommodate in your home. For instance, if your family member uses a wheelchair, then you’ll need to install at least one wheelchair ramp up into your home, and potentially add small ramps over doorway thresholds. If you’re in a multi-level home, a stairlift can be helpful to any senior and can make navigating the stairs safer.

Other simple yet effective renovations and additions include grab bars in the bathroom near the bathtub and the toilet. If your family member uses a walker or rollator, you may need to modify narrow doorways to accommodate the devices. You may want to install non-slip strips into the bottom of your bathtub, and you can purchase textured tape to place on the edges of hardwood stairs to improve grip.

Once your senior family member is living with you, you’ll probably discover additional modifications that can help to keep them both safer and more comfortable. The more effort that you put in ahead of time, though, the smoother their transition into your home should be for everyone.

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