Whether we like to admit it or not, there comes a time in everyone’s life when living alone at home simply is no longer an option. As the human body ages, its faculties begin to fail, with problems appearing in everything from eyesight and hearing issues to more debilitating conditions like lack of mobility or mental conditions (e.g., dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.).
Options for providing care to a relative
If your relative is reaching the point they can no longer safely look after themselves, you will need to decide how to care for them. In general, you’ll have options ranging from hiring in-home care (in their home) to having them come to stay with you or entrusting them to the care of a nursing home.
Readying your home to accommodate your relative
Very often, families choose to have their relatives stay with them, but there are some sensible precautions and alterations you should consider to make your home safe for their arrival, including:
Consider mobility issues: If your relative has problems with mobility, you should make them feel safer and more mobile by installing handrails, widening doors, installing a downstairs toilet (so they don’t need to tackle stairs), etc. Also, think about objects like rugs or steps, which can be very easy to trip over.
Make their bedroom a safe and pleasant environment: If your relative comes to stay with you, they will likely come to view their bedroom as their own private sanctuary, so you must make it as comfortable as possible with all the things they might need. For example, make sure they have a television, possibly a couch, and a table if you have space, and maybe even include a kettle. Also, you should try to ensure the bedroom is on the ground floor – even if that means changing the use of a room to allow them to live in it. You should also be aware that, should your relative have issues during the night, there are services that can offer overnight care for seniors. While it’s likely you and your family will be able to provide help through the day, you will probably find it more difficult at night.
De-clutter your home: This is particularly important if you have kids or pets. Make sure you declutter any walkways your relative might use, and encourage your kids to put their toys away after they’ve finished using them. You may also want to keep your pets in specific areas of the home, away from your relative – depending on their level of training.
Make commonly-used items easy to find: Think about the things your relative might use most and make them readily and easily available to save them from having to hunt through drawers or closets.
Make your bathroom safer: A bathroom can be a minefield for the elderly, so ensure you make it safer for them to use. Consider installing handrails in showers and next to the toilet, and make sure you put non-skid mats on slippery floors.