How to modify a home for an elderly family member

Installing a stair lift is one way to modify a home for an elderly family member
Photo by CC user Bcm924 on Wikimedia Commons

If you have elders, you know that their ability to move around as degraded to some degree with every passing year.

As they begin to move into their 70s, 80s, and beyond, you may have to start thinking about how to modify a home for an elderly family member.

In this post, we will share a few fundamental adjustments that you might need to install for them.

1) Install a stair lift

The staircase that leads to the upper floors of an elderly family member’s home has the greatest potential for causing a catastrophic accident.

Because of this, this is the first area that should be addressed when it is becoming clear that an elderly family member is beginning to experience mobility challenges in the course of their daily life.

The best way to make their stairs safe is to get a stair lift installed in your home. Instead of slowly making their way up the stairs while holding onto the handrail for dear life, they can now simply take a seat on their stair lift as it brings them to the upper floor of their home.

Used in tandem with one family member at the bottom and another at the top, it can also be used to bring awkward loads up the stairs such as laundry, thereby making this chore less risky in old age.

2) Perform a retrofit on the bathroom

The bathroom is another high-risk area for adults entering the late stages of their life. With an abundance of water coming from both the bath and the sink, the high risk of suffering a fall on waterlogged floors makes a bathroom retrofit a necessary task.

Strongly consider replacing tiled floors with a surface that is anti-slip, but at least install grab bars, as it will allow elderly users to arrest a fall before it has a chance to happen.

Bathtub accessibility is another issue that you’ll need to address as your elderly family members get older.

Leg mobility may not allow them to step over the lip of the tub as they progress into their golden years; combat this by replacing the traditional bath with a stand-up unit.

With a door that forms a watertight seal, your elders can enjoy the comfort of a warm bath despite not being able to get into a traditional unit.

3) Make entryways and halls barrier-free

As your elderly family members get older, they may lose their mobility to the point where they might be confined to a wheelchair.

If this has become a reality for your parents or relatives, you need to make retrofits to the exterior and interior of their house to eliminate any barriers that may act as impediments to their independence.

This means doing things like building a ramp on their front step, installing push button door openers, and replacing carpet with hard flooring.

These adjustments and others will allow your elderly loved ones to continue living their life at home, rather than having to move into an assisted care facility.

4) Put Fire Extinguishers in Every Room

The elderly often have trouble with mobility, so in the case of an emergency like a fire, they might be able to escape fast enough. So, the best thing you can do is place fire extinguishers in every room to give them the opportunity to put out any small fires that exist if it’s a possibility.