Life continues to march on for everyone, and that includes aging family members or friends who might visit you in your home. You may have an older friend in town for a short time. Or you might have parents or grandparents in town for the holidays. In either case, there are a few things you can do to help make their stay with you safer and more comfortable.
Some of these suggestions are possible to accommodate for the occasional weekend guest. Others are a larger undertaking and are suited to families that enjoy longer stays or may have a mobility-impaired individual moving in with them. Either way, it’s wise to be aware of the challenges your home might present to an elderly person that you may have never thought of.
#1: Replace Dangerous Flooring
If your older family member has balance issues or drags their feet, tall carpet and slick surfaces can pose a danger. Avoiding trips, slips, and falls is essential to the safety of your loved one. Look for loose tiles, damaged laminate, unsecured carpet edges, or small ledges. These sorts of hazards can be dangerous for older guests in your home.
#2: Secure Area Rugs
Area rugs often add a nice accent to rooms around our house, but they can be a serious hazard to guests with balance or mobility issues. Unsecured area rugs can easily slip underfoot. For an elderly guest who already has balance concerns, that can be very dangerous. Secure area rugs with a non-slip pad or grip tape to ensure they stay put when friends and family walk on them.
#3: Add a Shower Bench
Showers are often a pleasure we take for granted. For older friends and relatives, standing in a shower on a wet, slippery surface while bending and twisting to wash themselves is a serious challenge. Adding a shower bench to your shower is very affordable. A seat in the shower could help your elderly guest keep their independence while staying with you by allowing them to shower without assistance.
#4: Upgrade to a Walk-in Bathtub
If you have frequent visits from older relatives, you might consider upgrading to a walk-in tub or barrier-free shower. With convenient features for anyone who uses them, a walk-in bathing area will give elderly guests a safe and comfortable place to clean themselves.
#5: Light Up Your Stairs
Stairs can be one of the biggest challenges for older people. For people losing their mobility and balance, stairs can present a terrifying barrier. If you have stairs in your home that elderly guests will have to tackle, consider adding extra lighting. You want to make sure visibility is as good as it can be, including lighting on the handrail and on the stair edges. Make the staircase as visible as possible to make the barrier less challenging for your older friends and relatives.
#6: Make Stairs an Easy Feat
Tile, hardwood, and even carpeting, can become very slippery and pose a hazard older guests with balance issues. Make sure stairs, both inside and outside your house, have adequate grip on the surface, as well the handrails. If you have the room, consider adding a stair-assist chair to make stairs even easier for your guests.
#7: Use Home Automation
While you may not think twice about getting up to turn up the thermostat, that simple act could be a challenge for elderly friends and relatives. Adding automated systems for lights, temperature, curtains, and other aspects of your home can go a long way to making it a more inviting, comfortable, and safe place for older guests. As an added bonus, smart home automation can significantly reduce your utility bills.
#8: Add a Security System
A security system can help provide peace of mind if you have to leave elderly guests alone in your home. Many systems have the option of remote monitoring, which lets you “be there” for your older guests without having to physically be there. This may reassure them (and you) that your home and guests are safe and secure.
#9: Install Grab Bars and Handrails
Common household areas that seem benign to younger people can present serious challenges to older friends and relatives. Staircases, bathrooms, hallways, and bedrooms become more dangerous as we age and develop balance or mobility issues. Extra supports like handrails and grab bars can make your house safer for elderly guests.
#10: Add a Bed Rail
Even a simple bed can become more dangerous as we age. Falling out of bed as a youngster might make for a funny story to tell your friends at school. But as we age, such falls can become far more serious. Bones become more brittle as we get older, and falls from even a small height can be very serious. Consider adding bed rails to your guest room to help your older guests sleep safely and comfortably through the night.
Welcoming a loved one into your home shouldn’t cause any worry. With the proper precautions in place, it won’t! Enjoy your guests with reassurance that you’ve prepared your home to welcome them.