Watching your loved ones struggle with aging can be incredibly stressful. As a family member, you and the senior have several options and preparing your home for a senior relative is one of them.
As they age and their abilities become more and more limited, you may decide that living alone has become dangerous. Though some seniors opt to move into assisted-living facilities, this isn’t the right choice for all families. In many cases, moving a senior into a family member’s care is a better call.
Preparing Your Home for a Senior Relative
However, not all homes are equipped for a senior’s needs. If a senior family member is moving into your home, it’s important to make all the changes necessary to ensure their safety. Below we will discuss some of the things you can do to prepare your home for a senior relative’s living area.
The Risks of Slips and Falls for Seniors
Slipping and falling is one of the most common – and dangerous – accidents seniors have in the home. Around a fourth of U.S. seniors over the age of 65 will experience this kind of accident every year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Seniors are at a higher risk of falling, due to several factors. Conditions that affect balance, vision, and coordination, as well as medications to treat those conditions, can increase their odds of falling. They’re also more likely to sustain injuries with long-term effects such as broken bones, torn muscles, or traumatic brain injuries.
For even the spryest seniors, staircases can be a serious hazard. As we age, our joints, bones, and ligaments get weaker. Going up and down stairs puts a lot of pressure on the body, particularly in the knees, hips, ankles, and wrists. Since these are also common locations for arthritis in seniors, navigating stairs can mean a lot of pain and discomfort.
Moreover, any balance issues your senior family member has can put them at serious risk for falling. Even with a sturdy handrail, a moment of lost balance can lead to a devastating fall. Remember, a staircase doesn’t have to have many steps to be worrisome – one or two steps is all that’s needed to put a senior at risk.
Consider having a stair lift or at-home elevator installed. These options allow seniors to easily move from level to level in a home without putting excess strain on joints or risking balance problems. Short ramps or additional railings can make smaller stairways safer as well.
Knobs and Handles
For some, grip strength gets worse with age. Arthritis, carpal tunnel, and poor coordination are just a few of the reasons your relative may struggle with some of the knobs and handles in your home. Do a room-by-room audit of doorknobs, faucets, and cabinetry hardware. Try to identify anything that’s small, hard to turn, or loose.
This issue can usually be solved with some simple hardware swaps. Change out tricky circular door knobs for easier-to-use levers. Smaller handles should be replaced with larger ones, which have more space to grip. Finally, any loose hardware should be replaced or repaired to ensure it’s safe and senior-friendly.
Showers and tubs are often one of the most dangerous places for seniors in the home. Already-smooth flooring both inside and outside of the tub becomes extra slick when wet. Without plenty of traction and help with their balance, your loved one is at high risk for taking a dangerous fall.
Because of this, bathrooms often need more updating than other areas in the house. Some modifications might be simple, such as adding non-slick features to the floor of your tub or shower and installing grab bars for additional balance (including labor, it’ll usually cost you $85 to install one grab bar). You may, however, need to make serious construction changes. A look at the Americans with Disabilities Act Guidelines for safe showers can serve as inspiration for what kinds of changes you can make to keep your family member safe.
In Nashville, it typically costs between $6,958 and $17,257 to remodel a bathroom. At that price, it’s important to make sure you get everything done right the first time. You may need to hire a contractor to oversee construction and make sure that any bathroom your loved one will use is safe and accessible.
Lines of Communication
If your house is particularly large or designed in a way that makes it difficult to hear room to room, you may want to consider installing an intercom system. Your loved one may get into a situation where they need your help but cannot easily call for you. An intercom system gives them a way to get your attention when they might otherwise be unable to.
These are some general tips and ideas on preparing your home for a senior relative. Safety and comfort are paramount for the senior. However, your home and your loved one are both unique. Take the design of your house and your family member’s abilities into account when considering home safety. You may need to do less – or more – than what’s mentioned here to ensure your family member’s safety, comfort, and happiness.
Selling Your Relative’s Home
One last consideration for you and your family is the relative’s current home. Sometimes their homes can be easily sold on the real estate market. Other times the house needs repairs or updating. With your family heavily involved in preparing your home for a senior relative and taking on the expense for all the work, the last thing you need on your mind is the senior’s current home.
As a real estate investor, we can purchase their home for cash and remove all the burdens of making repairs. Secondly, we remove all worries about how you are going to sell this property. At Southern Homes Investments we pay your closing costs and give you ample time to remove all the furniture and other contents. We want you to concentrate on preparing your home for a senior relative while we handle the details of buying and fixing up their old home.
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Disclaimer: David Wright is a licensed real estate agent in Tennessee and this article is not a solicitation to list your house.