How to Modify Your Home and Life For A Senior Family Member
When your senior parent or family member needs a little extra care, moving in with you may be the best move. Living with loved ones can be a welcome alternative to assisted living for the elderly. Still, you need to take the proper steps to ensure the home will be safe and comfortable for your senior loved one, and you need to take additional steps to make sure the move won’t cause more stress for you. Here are a few of those steps to get you started.
Make Your Bathrooms Safer and More Convenient
Reducing bathroom dangers should be a top priority in any senior’s home. That’s because falls can be deadly for older adults, and slippery surfaces in bathrooms are a common cause of senior falls. Some changes you should consider include installing grab bars, making sure the bathtub is non-slip, and perhaps modifying the tub/shower to allow seniors to walk in. You can go for a bigger remodel as well, but you should also be prepared for other bathroom issues, such as helping seniors bathe when needed. This can be an emotional experience for family caregivers, so try to understand things from your loved one’s perspective and think about hiring additional help to make these tasks easier for all.
Stock Your Kitchen with Healthy Senior Foods
Since your senior loved one will be dining with you from now on, you need to think about how to meet the unique nutritional needs that come with aging. Make an effort to provide food and meals that give your aging family member the fiber, energy, and essential vitamins needed to stay strong and healthy. You can incorporate these changes into your entire family’s meals, in order to make things easier or you can prep some meals specifically for your parent. Your loved one may be able to chip in for these additional grocery costs but it still may help to find ways to save, such as creating weekly meal plans and comparing prices. Using these tricks is a good way to prevent your food budget from getting out of control when your senior family member moves into your home, which can prevent financial stress for you and your loved one.
Take Steps to Automate Your Home for Safety
You may already know the perks that home automation can provide for you. By installing helpful tech like smart thermostats and automated lighting, you can make daily life more convenient and even save on your energy bills. You may be more interested to know, however, that those smart home devices can be helpful for aging in place as well. For example, lights that automatically dim can keep older adults from falling, but other devices can be beneficial for providing care to senior loved ones too. A home monitoring system can help you keep an eye on your loved one when you’re away from home, which can be especially helpful when your loved one is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Encourage Seniors to Stay Active and Social
Sometimes, seniors may move in with family due to health and safety reasons. Preventing loneliness, however, is also a common concern. Although living with you will certainly help your loved one avoid feelings of isolation, it’s still important to encourage him/her to connect with people outside of your family. One simple way for seniors to do so is by volunteering with their favorite cause or charity. Seniors who volunteer are less likely to feel depressed or isolated, and they tend to have better overall health. You can also encourage your senior loved one to join a gym. Gyms not only offer opportunities for socialization, but these facilities also allow older adults to enjoy the youth-preserving benefits of exercise for their hearts, minds, and bodies.
As parents and older loved ones age, roles can be reversed in families. It’s common for seniors to move in with their children and family members as they age, but sometimes these moves can cause more stress than needed. You can reduce that stress by getting your home and life ready for this major life change, so you can offer your loved one the care and support needed.
*** Written by Lucille Rosetti for Meridian Counseling. Lucille created TheBereaved.org as a means of sharing tools to help people through the grief process. Having lost some of the people closest to her, she understands what it’s like, and how it can be an emotional roller coaster that doesn’t always seem to make sense.