There comes a time for most of us in our 20s when we can finally move on from living with our parents and get a place of our own.
Usually, 30 or so years later, there comes a time when we are back living with them, as they struggle to live independently. Except this time, they are moving in with you.
If your parents are about to move in or are already living with you, you might be worrying about all the adaptations your home might need to make it accessible to your ailing parent.
Will they be irreversible? Will it damage the property? Will it feel like you are living in a care home?
Not if the changes are done right. Read on!
Alternatives To Elderly Care Homes
As our parents get older, they struggle to live independently forever. That is a harsh fact for many people.
Little falls, slips of memory, self-neglect, and even loneliness can often be the trigger for families discussing their options for getting a bit of support.
The elderly care options are generally carers, residential facilities, or moving in with each other.
Carers, whether live-in or drop-in are expensive. They mean the parent can stay in their own home for longer. But there is a limit to what they can and can’t do (they cannot lift a person, for example).
So naturally, if mobility decreases through Dementia, for example, the carers reach a point where they can no longer support your parent.
Residential facilities have a bad reputation. Many are clean, airy, friendly places where people are looked after with dignity. But it is still moving your parent in with strangers where they could be isolated or have fraught relationships with the other residents. Not to mention they are extremely expensive and often use up a person’s savings and assets.
Caring for your own parent is a popular option. In the UK, there are around 2 million people receiving care from a family member. According to caregiving.org, 29% of care recipients in the US live with their family caregiver.
And this statistic is rising. As more people struggle to afford carers or nursing home fees, and people are living longer, the need to move your parents in with you increases.
But how do you make your home welcoming and accessible to your elderly parentwithout sacrificing your own style or making the home inaccessible for your own children and spouse?
There are a few simple changes you can make that won’t involve restructuring.
Pay Attention to Entrances, Walkways, And Thresholds
If your parent is in a wheelchair you might be worried about having to widen doorways. A lot of wheelchairs are made to fit through standard doorways, so visit a mobility specialist and choose the right wheelchair.
Go armed with measurements for every door and tight spot in your home. Take your parent with you. They are the ones who have to sit in the wheelchair all day and you are the one who has to push it with them in, so make sure it suits you both.
If your parent is walking, albeit shakily, check for trip risks. A change in flooring texture, slightly raised thresholds, small steps, and rugs can all present trip hazards.
Move any furniture that blocks paths or makes it harder to negotiate the room.
Can your parent easily get in and out of your house? Is the path lit? Are there handles or bannisters up steps? Can you install a ramp?
Replacing thresholds, adding temporary ramps, and shifting your rugs are quick jobs you can achieve in a weekend, which will make your parent’s stay with you much safer and enjoyable for all.
Convert A Downstairs Room
Even if your parent can manage the stairs now, you might want to consider converting a downstairs room into a bedroom, perhaps with an en-suite.
If your parent has Dementia or Parkinson’s, for example, it is likely the time will come when they are no longer able to manage the stairs. And it will probably come suddenly.
Having a contingency in place is the smart option.
It used to be that elderly living aids started and ended with grab rails. Not anymore.
These days there are all manner of technological advances that mean your parents can safely live with you without you having to be there 24/7. This is especially useful if you are working.
Large ring pull openers, grabber hands, key turners, kettle tippers, standing aids, talking alarm clocks…the list is practically endless.
If you are in the UK, your local council can come to your home and assess it and your parent to help you work out what living aids are suitable.
This will make your parent safer and your life easier. Caring for your parent is hard work. Losing independence is upsetting for them. Living aids mean they can retain their independence for longer and you have to do fewer chores for them
Consider A Granny Annexe
If having your parent in your home is impractical or fills you with dread (let’s face it, not everyone gets along) you might want to consider a ‘granny annexe’.
These stand-alone residential buildings are designed to fit in your garden and provide fully insulated, glazed, plumbed, and accessible housing for elderly people who need a bit more care.
It’s not like having a fancy shed or a log cabinin your garden. They are properly constructed, customisable homes.
You can choose from one or two bedrooms, there are various layouts, and all the interior and exterior can be chosen by you and your parent.
They even add value to your property.
Living with your parent can be a fraught time as you all adjust and come to terms with the reversal of roles. But it can be a very rewarding time as you reconnect and spend precious time together.