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Home for the Holidays: Tips for Adult Children to Spot Potential Aging-in-Place Issues

Oct 26, 2023 | Children of Aging Parents

As the holiday season dashes closer, it’s not just the festive cheer that’s coming home—it’s you. And this year, amidst the laughter and stories, you might notice things about your parents’ home you haven’t before. Maybe Dad is taking longer to climb the stairs, or Mom’s not as steady on her feet. These moments can nudge us to think about how well their home supports them as they age.

Let’s walk through how you can review your parents’ home with an eye for aging in place, transforming your visit from a holiday gathering to an opportunity to ensure their comfort and safety for years to come.

Embracing Aging in Place

Aging in place isn’t just a passing phase; it’s a choice many parents make to stay in the home they love, surrounded by memories. When you visit, it’s the perfect time to see if their home is ready to support them through the golden years. And don’t worry—it’s not about making immediate big changes; it’s about knowing what to keep an eye on and considering small tweaks that can make a big difference.

Step 1: Gentle Home Assessment

Begin with a heartfelt walkthrough of your parents’ home. Don’t rush; let the conversation flow naturally. As you reminisce and catch up, keep a gentle eye out for:

  • Ease of Entry: Notice how they move through entryways. Are there steps they find tricky? Could a ramp make coming and going easier?
  • Stairs and Steps: Watch how they navigate the stairs. Are they hesitating or holding on to the railing a bit more than usual?
  • Bathroom Safety: During your stay, check the bathroom setup. Are there grab bars, or is there a need for non-slip mats?
  • Kitchen Comfort: Help prepare a meal together. Is everything within easy reach? Could the organization be improved for easier access?
  • Bedroom Accessibility: Ensure their bedroom is a haven, not a hurdle. Is the bed easy to get into? Is there anything you could do to make it cozier and more accessible?
  • Living Area Layout: Consider the space as you settle in for a chat in the living room. Is it navigable without obstacles, especially if a walker or wheelchair is needed?

Step 2: Spotting the Subtleties

Keep an eye out for the less obvious yet just as important:

  • Hidden Hazards: Notice any rugs they might trip on (this includes bathmats and welcome mats) or small steps between rooms.
  • Lighting for Safety: Look for places where better lighting could ensure they don’t miss a step.
  • Doorway Widths: Consider how easily they can walk through doorways, particularly with any aids.

Step 3: Heart-to-Heart on Solutions

After your assessment, sit down with them for a heart-to-heart talk about your observations. It’s not about coming in as the fixer; it’s about sharing your care and concern, offering support, and possibly making plans together.

  • Custom Recommendations: Tailor your thoughts to their needs. It’s their home, after all, and any change should make them feel comfortable.
  • Ease and Convenience: Highlight how simple additions can make life smoother and safer and how tackling these one by one can be more manageable than they think.
  • Thinking Ahead: Remind them and yourself that it’s about making sure the home they love grows with them, keeping them safe and sound in the years ahead.

Step 4: Planning Together for the Future

Planning isn’t just about the now—it’s about ensuring the home is ready for tomorrow, too. Look ahead together and consider the following:

  • Long-Term Modifications: Discuss whether future modifications like a stairlift or a walk-in tub could be beneficial. Remember, these don’t have to be immediate changes but can be part of a long-term plan for comfort and accessibility.
  • Technology Integration: Chat about smart home technologies that could make life easier, like voice-activated devices or home monitoring systems. These can provide peace of mind for them and you.
  • Professional In-Home Safety Assessment: Sometimes, bringing in an expert is the best step. Harmar’s network of professionals can offer a more detailed assessment and recommend personalized solutions. Let your parents know you can help arrange this. To ensure you’re engaging a trustworthy expert, remember:
    • Seek Referrals: Lean on recommendations from doctors, local senior centers, or friends with similar experiences.
    • Check Qualifications: Verify the assessor’s credentials and experience in home safety for seniors.
    • Clarity and Transparency: A good professional will clearly outline their services and costs without pressure.
    • Avoid Aggressive Sales: Be wary of those pushing costly modifications immediately. A genuine expert prioritizes understanding your parents’ unique needs.

 Step 5: Supportive Conversations and Decisions

As you discuss potential changes, remember that this conversation is about empowering your parents to make decisions that are right for them.

  • Respect Their Choices: Remember, it’s their home, and they should have the final say in what changes they’re comfortable with.
  • Budget Considerations: Be upfront about finances. Some modifications may be costly, but there are often affordable and simple changes that can make a big difference. And if assisted living has been discussed as a solution already, keep in mind that most, if not all, modifications will eventually be less costly compared to the overall cost of moving or assisted living.
  • Family Involvement: Encourage siblings and other family members to be involved in the conversation. But remember, it’s all about the approach. Ensure these conversations are gentle and inclusive, never making parents feel outnumbered or pressured. This isn’t just a practical matter—it’s about showing your parents they have a supportive and caring family network.

Wrapping Up With Warmth and Care

As the holiday season wraps up and you pack away the decorations, you’ll leave behind something far more lasting than gifts—peace of mind. By taking the time to review your parents’ home for aging in place, you’re giving them and yourself the assurance that their home will continue to be a place of joy and comfort. And remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. Our local certified dealers are here to guide and support families like yours, making aging in place not just a possibility but a comfortable reality.

Your parents’ home is where heartwarming pasts and hopeful futures meet. Let’s ensure it’s ready to support them every step of the way, today, tomorrow, and beyond.

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