What to Do Before Moving Mom In
Intergenerational living is on the rise, and today, 64 million Americans live in a home with more than one generation. While some of these are adult children living with their parents, many others are seniors living with their adult children or grandchildren. If you are the adult child in the latter scenario, you should know that there are a few changes you can make to your home to make it safer for your aging loved one. Keep reading for a few bits of practical advice on topics ranging from preventing potentially fatal falls to setting boundaries.
Modifications: Are They Necessary?
If you’re wondering if it’s necessary to make home modifications for your senior family member, the short answer is yes. However, this doesn’t mean you have to do a complete overhaul of your living space. A few simple adaptations can create a more welcoming environment for a mobility-, vision-, or cognitively impaired senior. The AARP lists among these a raised toilet seat, lever handles on doors, and adding a layer of non-slip wax to hardwood floors.
Spend an afternoon walking through your home to help determine areas that pose the most danger. An estimated one in four older Americans fall each year, and considering that bones break easier the older we get, this can be a serious problem. Many of these accidents take place on the slippery floors of the bathroom, which is already a hazardous area for people of any age. According to Angie’s List, you should pay special attention to the bathroom that your senior will use most often. Grab bars and a walk-in tub will go a long way toward allowing your senior parents to bathe in relative privacy while keeping your mind at ease.
Speaking of privacy, the potential loss of this fundamental human right often leads seniors to forgo assistance from loved ones, according to Phillips Lifeline. Before your loved one brings her bags, make sure that you can give her a quiet space where they can relax without interference from the grandkids. Remember, your parent is not a built-in babysitter, and they have likely learned to enjoy time spent alone.
Alone time is important, but so too is the time spent with family and friends. Your loved one should have access to transportation or have an area in the home where they can engage in social activities. This might mean converting the garage into an in-law suite or giving up your living room once a week for her Bible study group.
Addressing Bad Habits
Almost everyone has a vice, but when your senior parent smokes, drinks, or engages in unhealthy behaviors, you will need to have a long talk about what is acceptable in your home. Make sure they understand that, because of the health hazards associated with cigarettes, smoking, for example, is strictly prohibited inside. Similarly, you may have to change your behaviors to best accommodate your senior loved one’s health. If your loved one is on oxygen, you will need to take the cigarettes outside. You’ll also need to set rules about drinking, which can put your loved one at a greater risk of injuries even if your home is set up for safety.
Keep in mind that you and your aging parents are in for a substantial overhaul to your lifestyle. Moving an older person into your home requires a few safety modifications and the cooperation of your entire crew. However, remember that this is a labor of love and may be the best way you can repay your mom or dad for all they’ve done for you throughout your life.