Most people prefer doing this over having to worry whether their parents can cope on their own or ‘abandoning’ them to a retirement home. Once you have discussed this with your family and agreed that it is for the best, it is time to prepare your home for a new occupant.
Assess their needs
The extent in which you and your home will have to adapt depends entirely on your parent’s physical and mental state. Is their vision or hearing impaired? Can they walk on their own? If this is something you cannot determine by yourself, have a professional assessment done with the advice of the changes that should be implemented.
Think about their general safety
Well, this may be what every family needs, and you now have an excuse to enforce it. Alert your family not to leave things lying around, water spilled or shoes all over the hall. This is the least you can do to ensure your new occupant doesn’t trip or slip. If their vision is impaired, replace your dim lights with something which resembles daylight. A good advice is to use color schemes to outline edges of walls and stairs so everything seems ‘framed’ and is easily noticeable. If they are hard of hearing, rely on the visuals. Every sound signal should be accompanied by a signaling light. Obtain a phone for the hard-of-hearing. Install a video intercom with a remote button so they can see who is at the door and can open it easily. Present them with a personal alarm so they can feel safe in the new home and the new neighborhood when you are not around.
Choose the right bedroom
The preferable choice would be to keep your elderly parent on one level. Since most communal areas are at the ground level, this is where their bedroom and bathroom should be. You should choose the bed so as to allow them to get up and down easily. This can usually be done by selecting the right height and installing rails to help them with balance and to lift their own weight. Remove any rugs and install carpets as they tend to be the least slippery. Also, they are easier for wheelchairs to move around than let’s say wooden floors or tiles.
Choose the bathroom
The bathroom should be on the same level as the bedroom. They do not have to have an entire bathroom to themselves but it should definitely be fitted to suit them. Forget about the bathtub unless you want to be present every time they bathe. Install a shower instead and get a shower chair. Again, put in some rails to help them balance and move around the room. Get anti-slip stickers for your bathroom to avoid a potential fall.
Adapt your kitchen
Even if your parent is not in a wheelchair, they probably prefer sitting down while preparing their food so have several countertops lowered. Find a new spot for those things most needed and keep them at a hand’s reach without having to stretch or climb onto a chair to get to them. Again, if you have floor tiles in your kitchen, get the anti-slip tape.
If there is a wheelchair user, keep your house as ‘open’ as you can. Remove any extra furniture with no particular purpose and if necessary make doors wider so a wheelchair can fit. For any special requirements and help with information on funding, you can contact any local Senior Services Aged Care Assistance centre and they will be able to advise you on your options.