The biblical principle of “kibud av v’eim”, honoring one’s parents, includes caring for them as they age.
And according to AARP, 90% of Americans want to remain at home in their retirement years, and there are some compelling reasons to keep them there. Remaining independent and connected to their communities has emotional, health and financial benefits.
It just may take some rethinking, redesign or remodeling to make it work. Here are eight ways to help them do that:
If there isn’t a built-in spot to sit down or rest packages near the home’s main entry, place a bench there. It will help your parent who might be tired lighten his/her load while hunting for the house keys.
A digital doorbell that shows visitors on her phone or tablet can also be very helpful for a senior. It provides security and saves steps – and may save a certain amount of stress, too, if it’s a salesman or stranger.
Around the house
As more seniors become smart phone and tablet users, smart home technology becomes more helpful overall. New apps and voice-controlled devices can adjust the room’s temperature, open and close window shades, and operate security systems.
On a more basic level, make life easier for your parents with a few easy, affordable design changes. On entry and room doors, replace knobs with lever handles. Replace knob or cross-handle faucets with lever-handled models. And replace knobs on cabinet doors with easier-to-grip pulls. Arthritis is tough!
In the kitchen
There are many things you can do to make a kitchen more aging-friendly, from anti-fatigue mats to adding a sit-down prep area, but one of the most impactful is making sure the vent hood works and can be reached by someone who might have lost a few inches over the years. A new hood with a remote control is definitely worth considering.
Consider accessories that make using cabinets more accessible, like wall cabinet pull-downs, roll-out trays, and corner swing-outs.
In the bathroom
Bathrooms can be dangerous spaces for seniors. One of the risks is scalding from an overly hot shower-head or tub faucet. New Temp2O models from Delta that show in vivid color whether the water is at a safe temperature before stepping in can be an easier fix than remodeling the shower. Go for the hand-held version so it can be used while seated on a bench or shower seat. The massage setting is a plus.
Another major risk for older adults are falls. Slip-resistant flooring in a bathroom is a must. (Ditch the polished marble please!) Rectified porcelain tiles also offer much easier cleaning.
Not only can these adjustments make your parents’ lives better, easier and safer, they can also make their homes more valuable. They’re worth considering for your own home, too, if grandma and grandpa visit the kids regularly, or if you plan on living out your golden years there, too.
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS is a San Diego-based, NKBA-certified, independent kitchen and bath designer and the author of the New Bathroom Idea Book and New Kitchen Ideas That Work (Taunton Press). Her website can be found at jgkitchens.com.