Make it Safe! – When moving an aging parent into your home

Before you move your aging parent or loved one into your home or when you are helping them age in place,  you need a plan to make it safe. Take an objective view of your home from the perspective of someone who uses a wheelchair or is a fall risk.

One option is to call in a pro. A pro can assess the home and recommend modifications and/or remodel projects that will make the living space safer. This assessment can be performed by an occupational therapist, physical therapist, geriatric care manager, or a certified aging-in-place specialist.

Homes may require modifications such as :

  • zero-threshold entryways
  • wide doorways and halls
  • offset door hinges to make room for a wheelchair, walker or two people walking side by side
  • controls and switches that are reachable from a wheelchair or bed
  • a waterproof seat in the shower
  • a stair-climber
  • a raised toilet seat
  • a shower chair
  • a  frameless walk-in shower with a sloped floor instead of a step-over threshold
  • put textured no-slip strips in the bathtub and shower to lessen the chance of a fall

These can be done is a stylish and comfortable manner that is safe for all ages.

Falls are a major concern for aging adults. You can minimize this concern by taking a number of simple steps to make the environment safer. Some examples include:

  • Remove throw rugs.
  • Use rubber-backed bathmats.
  • Move laundry facilities to the first floor.
  • Remove wheels on chairs.
  • Put nonskid treads on steps.
  • Keep steps clear.
  • Apply nonslip wax to floors.
  • If wandering is a worry, you may need to add sensors and alarms.
  • Repair loose carpeting or raised areas of flooring.
  • Move small and low furniture.
  • Clear electric cords and clutter.
  • Add a hall railing.
  • Switch out standard doorknobs for lever handles.
  • Add a raised toilet and grab bars.
  • Remove locks from bedroom and bathroom doors so you can get in quickly, should your loved one fall.
  • Put a railing on the hall wall.
  • Swap out your recliner for one that raises and lowers — to make getting up easier.

You may be able to find assistance by contacting your local area agency of aging or Veterans Affairs office.

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