As we grow older, the concern for our parents' safety becomes increasingly important. We want them to live comfortably and securely, without any worries or troubles. However, many seniors face challenges when it comes to housing; often finding it necessary to downsize, move into a one-level home, reduce the amount of constant maintenance required, etc. Their ability to sell their current home and purchase a much more conducive one has been inhibited lately due to factors such as high mortgage rates and low housing inventory. This is making it challenging and difficult to afford the necessary adjustments to properly age in place.
If you're facing a similar situation with your parents, then perhaps it's time to consider inviting them to move in with you instead. It may seem like a daunting task to many, but with careful consideration and planning, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for both you and your parents. Not only do you get to spend more time with your loved ones, but you can also provide them with a comfortable and secure home environment that meets their needs. However, to make this plan successful, there are some things you need to consider beforehand. Here are some tips and ideas for a great homecoming:
1. Discuss the idea with your parents: Before you make any home modifications, have an open and honest conversation with your parents to ensure they are on board with the idea. Discuss any concerns, expectations, and preferences they may have for their living arrangements.
2. Plan the living space: Depending on the size of your home, you may need to make some modifications to accommodate your parents' needs. Whether you will be modifying a spare bedroom, garage, ground-floor basement, or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) such as an in-law suite, you’ll need to consider the placement of their bed, bathroom, and other facilities to ensure they have easy access and sufficient privacy.
3. Make home modifications: You may need to make some home modifications to meet the specific care needs of your seniors. Here are some tips to make sure that this living space will be accessible, safe, and comfortable for your loved ones to stay in:
- Make sure the living space has a no-step entryway. If this is not a feasible option, you’ll need to install a stairlift or a wheelchair ramp to make the area more accessible for those with limited mobility.
- Ensure that doorways are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or other mobility device.
- Create an open-concept design to make the home more spacious and easier to navigate with a wheelchair or walker.
- Install hardwood or laminate flooring and remove any area rugs that may pose as trip hazards.
- Install adjustable lighting that can be brightened or dimmed to accommodate aging eyesight.
- See about installing an elevated toilet seat for added comfort in the bathroom. Take comfort and accessibility to the next level by installing a TILT® Toilet Incline Lift. Mount grab bars near the toilet for added safety.
- Install a curbless walk-in shower with a built-in seat and grab bars to make showering safer, easier, and more accessible. Affix anti-slip bath and shower grips to the floor inside and outside the shower.
- If possible, lower countertops and sinks in the kitchen to a wheelchair-accessible height. If reconstruction is not an option, there are plenty of add-ons, such as drop-leaf tables and pull-down cabinet inserts, that can make any kitchen more wheelchair friendly. You may also consider creating a space in their room for a small kitchenette with a microwave and mini fridge to give parents more independence.
- Replace round doorknobs with lever-style handles, and replace round faucet handles with levers or touch-on faucets.
- Consider a hospital-style bed with adjustable height to make getting in and out of bed easier for aging parents. Install grab bars near the bed to assist with mobility and safety.
- Add plenty of storage options such as built-in shelves or closet organizers to keep the space clutter-free and organized.
- Add a comfortable, reclining chair that is easy to get in and out of for resting and reading.
- Add an emergency button that can alert family members or caregivers in case of an emergency.
- Make sure to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and have a fire extinguisher nearby to ensure your parents stay safe and protected in their new space.
- If your loved ones are comfortable with the idea, you can add a smart speaker or other voice-activated technology to make it easier for parents to control the lights, TV, and other devices.
- Create a memory wall by hanging family photos or mementos that are special to your parents. This can help make the space feel more personalized and welcoming. Adding a plant or two to the room will bring a touch of nature and freshness to the space as well.
By designing the room with accessibility, safety, and comfort in mind, you'll be prepared for any situation that may arise. Be sure to have an open and honest conversation with your loved ones about their wishes and preferences for the seasons of life to come.
4. Provide emotional support: Inviting your parents to live with you can be a major life change for them, so make sure to provide them with emotional support as they settle into their new home.
5. Set expectations: Establishing clear boundaries and expectations among all family members can help avoid misunderstandings and conflicts later on. For instance, designate who will take care of specific chores, household duties, and expenses.
6. Spend quality time: Finally, make time to spend quality time with your parents. You can take them out for walks, host family dinners, or plan a family getaway. Fostering positive relationships is the key to a happy family, and it all starts with spending time together.
In conclusion, inviting your parents to live with you can be one of the most rewarding decisions you can make. With careful planning, communication, and appropriate modifications, you can create a warm and inviting space that both you and your parents will love to call home.